Russia vetoes first-of-its-kind UN resolution linking climate change with security

Russian envoy claims resolution could give the UN Security Council the power to intervene in any country

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 14 December 2021 12:24 GMT
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In this photo provided by the United Nations, Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia (upper left) raises his hand to veto a first-of-its kind UN Security Council resolution casting climate change as a threat to international peace and security on 13 December 2021
In this photo provided by the United Nations, Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia (upper left) raises his hand to veto a first-of-its kind UN Security Council resolution casting climate change as a threat to international peace and security on 13 December 2021 (UN Photo/Loey Felipe via AP)

Russia has vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that warned about the international security implications of the climate crisis.

The country’s envoy said the resolution was “unacceptable” for his government and that it would turn the climate crisis into “a politicised question”.

“We are against creating a new area for the council’s work which establishes a generic, automatic connection between climate change and international security, turning a scientific and socio-economic issue into a politicised question,” Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said just before vetoing the resolution on Monday.

China abstained from the vote while India voted against the resolution.

Twelve security council members, however, voted to adopt the UN resolution.

Niger’s ambassador Abdou Abarry, who was one of the authors of the draft resolution, said the veto could not “hide our reality”.

“The force of the veto can block the approval of a text, but it cannot hide our reality,” he said.

File: Russia's UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia speaks to the media following a UN Security Council meeting on Venezuela in January 2019 in New York (Getty Images)

India’s envoy TS Tirumurti said: “Why is it that one needs a UN Security Council resolution to take action on climate change when we have commitments under the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] toward concerted climate action?”

The draft resolution also asked the UN secretary-general to make climate-related security risks “a central component” of conflict prevention efforts.

The security council has discussed the security implications of climate change since 2007, but Monday’s resolution was the first time climate-related security was addressed as an issue of its own.

Ireland’s envoy Geraldine Byrne Nason, who co-authored the draft resolution, said before the vote: “This resolution is about enabling the UN Security Council to address climate change with the tools it has within its mandate. The council has already taken steps to integrate climate-related security risks into some of its mandated operations.”

The draft resolution was co-sponsored by 113 nations.

The Russian envoy said the resolution would divert the council’s attention from “genuine” sources of conflict in several places and give it the power to intervene in any country. “This approach would be a ticking time bomb,” he said.

“This council will never live up to its mandate for international peace and security if it does not adapt,” Ms Byrne Nason said.

“It must reflect the moment we are now living in, the threats to international peace and security which we now face.”

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