New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law
Last Updated: 29 January 2023
Climate Change as a Security Threat to the Pacific Islands
The Pacific region is commonly marketed as a tropical island play ground for a privileged percentage of society, advertised as a place where one can escape reality. However, once the resort islands’ façade is peeled back, a shocking scene is left, baring the remains of a simple existence that, for the people of this region, is largely inescapable. Already fraught with political instability and extreme poverty, this region is also one of the most vulnerable areas in the world, particularly susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that sea levels will rise between 9 and 88 cm by the year 2100. This increase has the potential to cripple, if not destroy, whole Pacific Island states due to their low-lying geographical location. Traditionally, a threat to international peace and security has been considered to be directly related to militant warfare, encompassing the notion of protecting state borders from outside aggressive threats. However, this article illustrates how climate change is a security threat to the Pacific Islands, considering whether there is a role for the United Nations Security Council in the mitigation of climate change. The article concludes that to successfully mitigate climate change, the international community needs to adopt a multilayered approach, which may include invoking the powers of the United Nations Security Council.
*Rachel Kendall graduated from the University of Auckland with a first class Master of Law, Environmental Law in 2012. The article was written as a paper for the subject International Environmental Law. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Otago, and graduated with a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts (Politics) in 2011 having spent her final semester studying International Politics and Environmental Law at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Rachel was admitted to the bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court in 2012 and is currently working as an Associate Policy Analyst with Allen + Clarke in Wellington. Email address <email@example.com>.
The Pacific region is commonly marketed as a tropical island playground for a privileged percentage of society, advertised as a place where one can escape reality.1 However, once the resort islands’ façade is peeled back, a shocking scene is left, baring the remains of a simple existence that, for the people of this region, is inescapable.2 In Fiji a staggering 53 per cent of the population does not have access to safe drinking water.3 In Papua New Guinea, 38 per cent of the population lives below the national basic needs poverty line with a gross national income per capita of $US988.70.4 Already fraught with political instability and extreme poverty, this region is also one of the most vulnerable areas in the world, particularly susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change.5
Scientific research has determined that the Pacific Islands are predisposed to a myriad of devastating climatic factors.6 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that sea levels will rise between 9 and 88 cm by the year 2100, an increase with the potential to cripple, if not destroy, whole Pacific Island states due to their low-lying geographical location.7 The IPCC has also predicated a dramatic rise in temperatures of between 1.4 and
(Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, July 2011) at 5. 3 At 5.
the Pacific region over the past 100 years, the predicted temperature increase is likely to occur at an alarming rate of at least 2.3 times faster than previously experienced.8 This envisaged increase in temperature is likely to have a catastrophic effect upon activities that have been sustaining residents in the Pacific for generations, increasing the risk of hunger, disease, flooding and water shortages to the region.9
Scientific evidence documented by the IPCC illustrates the serious physical effects that climate change will have upon vulnerable areas, such as the Pacific Islands.10 In addition to this physical environmental stress, scholars, scientists and policymakers have drawn an alarming connection between climate change and the increase of violent global conflicts.11 Predictions have been made indicating that changes in the climate have the potential to exacerbate unrest within unstable regions, resulting in what may ultimately be defined as a threat to international peace and security: “it is lapping at our feet, quite literally ... the Pacific region is on the front of the front lines of the climate challenge”.12
Evidence highlighting the existence of this phenomenon is increasingly being documented by the wider international community.13 In the report “PostConflict Environmental Assessment on Sudan”, the link between
8 At 30.
9 Denise Garcia “Warming to a Redefinition of International Security: The Consolidation of a Norm Concerning Climate Change” (2010) 24 International Relations 271 at 273.
climate change and conflict in Darfur was addressed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).14 The UNEP noted that rainfall in the region had decreased by 30 per cent causing the desertification of millions of hectares of land. The report concluded that there are strong indications that the hardship caused to pastoralist societies by the desertification was one of the underlying causes of the war in Darfur: “there is mounting evidence that the decline in precipitation due to regional climate change has been a significant stress factor on pastoralist societies”.15
The global community’s gradual recognition of the connection between climate change and international conflicts illustrates the significant evolution that has occurred within the international security realm over the last century. Traditionally, a threat to international peace and security has been considered to be directly related to militant warfare, encompassing the notion of protecting state borders from outside aggressive threats.16 However, clearly illustrating the expansion that the concept of security has undergone over the last century, on 17 April 2007 the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC), the principal international organisation charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, convened its first landmark meeting to discuss “The Impact of Climate Change on Peace and Security”.17
Four years later on 20 July 2011 the SC convened its second meeting to consider the “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: The Impact of Climate Change”.18 The convenor of the 2011 SC meeting, Peter Wittig, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, asked the SC to consider
how the Council could play a more integrated role in an approach to conflict prevention, placing a greater emphasis on climaterelated factors.19Although the SC declined to formally accept, by way of a SC resolution, on 17 April 2007 or 20 July 2011, that climate change does constitute a threat to international peace and security, the consideration of climate change within the SC forum has generated a global debate on the possible role of the SC in the mitigation of climate change.
The international community has accepted climate change as an environ mental global concern: “... we must make no mistake, the facts are clear, climate change is real and it is accelerating in a dangerous manner”.20 However, despite the fact that there is a wealth of scientific knowledge and indis putable evidence pointing towards the inevitability of the world’s demise to the warming climate, this article illustrates that the process entered into by the international community to stem the effects of climate change has been crippled by indecision, marked by the failure of states to reach a consensus on a sufficient binding, all-inclusive, multilateral mitigation framework.21 The purpose of this article is to illustrate how climate change is a security threat to the Pacific Islands, considering therefore, whether there is a role for the SC in the mitigation of climate change.
Part 2 of the article analyses the development of the four central international climate change frameworks: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements, illustrating how the international community has found itself stalled within the current state of treaty fatigue. Part 3 traces the development of security from encompassing only notions of traditional warfare to the expanded definition of security as including climate change. Part 4 evaluates whether the SC has the jurisdiction to manage the issue of climate change, analysing the legal application of the collective security measures codified within Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. This article
addresses the political arguments set by states at the 2011 landmark SC debate, concluding that, to successfully mitigate climate change, the international community needs to adopt a multilayered approach, which, where appropriate, may include invoking the powers of the SC. Part 5 addresses New Zealand’s ongoing responsibility to the Pacific region, analysing how the New Zealand Government is supporting the region in the face of indecision within the international community.
2. TREATY FATIGUE
“We talk on principle but we act on interest.”
William Savage Landor (1775–1864)
In order to understand why this article analyses climate change within the inter national security paradigm, it is important to highlight the inherent problems currently being experienced by the global community with regards to the existing climate change frameworks. International climate change negotiations to date have been fraught with uncertainty and ambiguity, with states failing to reach a consensus to implement an allinclusive, binding international agreement. The central argument within international climate change debates centres upon the phrase “common but differentiated responsibility”.22 States have exhausted 22 years, arguing over who should bear the burden of climate change, analysing how mitigation mechanisms could be equitably integrated into international and national legislation. As a result, leaders in 2011 were faced with the daunting task of attempting to rectify this situation having been left with a series of stale international agreements, resulting in what can be dubbed “treaty fatigue”.23
Part 2 of this article explores the development of the legislative framework designed by the international community in an attempt to mitigate the physical effects of climate change, distinguishing between the differing requirements of the international climate change frameworks. The UNFCCC is a binding treaty that does not require any specific greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, the Kyoto Protocol is a binding treaty that does require specific GHG reductions, while the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements are both nonbinding political documents with no tangible legal effects.
2.2 The Stalemate in International Climate Change Negotiations
The political debate on the global crisis of climate change arose in the international context during the 1980s fuelled by the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. In 1989, Thatcher presented a powerful speech to the UN General Assembly, urging the international community to “prevent, rather than just cure, a global environmental problem”.24 Regrettably, however, 22 years later, a binding GHG mitigation convention, uniting all nations to prevent a certain global catastrophe, is yet to be ratified.
In 1990 scientific evidence, concurrent with the precautionary warnings issued by Thatcher, were reported by the IPCC, concluding that humaninduced climate change was a threat to the future of humanity.25 The international community’s response to the sudden upsurge of interest on the issue of climate change was the creation of the UNFCCC.26 Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force on 21 March 1994, the primary objective of the UNFCCC is to “stabilize GHG in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.27 The 195 Parties to the UNFCCC are urged to address the threat of climate change by monitoring trends in anthropogenic GHG emissions, assessed by way of an annual inventory of GHG emissions and removals.28 Under the Convention, governments work together to formulate information on GHG emissions, share national policies and best practices, working with one another
to launch national strategies for addressing GHG emissions and adapting to expected impacts.29
The UNFCCC undoubtedly paved the way for the creation of a global frame work response to climate change. However, following the ratification of the Convention, it became increasingly clear that the international body lacked the practical tools required for executing effective, national climate change policies, with the Preamble to the Convention highlighting this ambiguity: “States should enact effective environmental legislation”.30 Accepting the limitations of the Convention, the international community designed the Kyoto Protocol at the third Conference of the Parties (COP3).31 Executed within the legal framework of the UNFCCC and adopted by COP3 in Kyoto, Japan on 11 December 1997, 193 parties have acceded to the Protocol.32
In comparison to the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol places a specific, binding commitment on all Annex 1 countries party to the Protocol to imple ment national policies to limit and reduce their emissions by setting national reduction targets over a five-year period, 2008–2012.33 Article 4 of the Kyoto Protocol requires Parties to implement national initiatives, “formulate, implement, publish and regularly update national and where appropriate, regional programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change by addressing anthropogenic emissions”.34 Developed countries can meet their reductions commitments through the three Kyoto mechanisms: Article 6
Emissions Trading (ET), Article 12 the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Article 17 Joint Implementation (JI).35 As an Annex 1 country, New Zealand has committed to reduce national GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2012.36 To meet its 2012 reduction target the New Zealand Government has implemented within national legislation the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008 (CCRETA) (ETS).37
Although in theory the Kyoto Protocol asserts to address the enforceability issues experienced by the UNFCCC, the Protocol is still restrictive in that it has implemented binding mitigation obligations on developed nations extending only to 2012. With this expiry date rapidly approaching, the international community has spent the past five years attempting to design a successor to the Protocol.
Parties to the UNFCCC entered the Copenhagen Summit of 2009 armed with a retrospective, senseless confidence. From 7 to 18 December 2009, Parties met at COP15, intent on signing an allinclusive, binding international agreement to act as the successor to the Kyoto Protocol.38 However, the stalemate in international climate change negotiations was broadcast around the globe, with 2009 turning out to be “one of the most exhausting years of negotiations, meetings and consultations in the history of environmental diplomatic relations”.39 The Copenhagen Accord, formally noted on 18 December 2009, acknowledges that “climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time”.40 Despite this recognition, the Accord weakly identifies the need to establish longterm cooperative international action “as soon as
possible”, setting a nonbinding goal for emitters to keep the rise in temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.41
New Zealand formally noted the Accord on 31 January 2010, accepting a nonbinding responsibility to reduce national GHG emissions to 10 to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.42 In order for New Zealand to reduce emissions by between 10 to 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 a reduction of 36 million to 42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent will be required each year. However, the ETS is expected to reduce emissions by only 12 million tonnes a year by 2020, merely a third of the reduction needed to meet the less ambitious end of the target range.43 As the Copenhagen Accord is merely a nonbinding, political document, there are no enforceable penalties to impose upon states who fail to meet pledged targets.
With expectations shattered following the “acrimonious shambles” that was the Copenhagen Summit, states attended COP16 in Cancun 2010 slightly more levelheaded, with a reduced mandate to “set in motion the design and construction of the infrastructure for implementation needed for stepped up action on climate change”.44 However, forming yet another nonbinding political agreement, the Cancun Agreements have been tasked with a broad mandate:45
To establish clear objectives for reducing humangenerated greenhouse gas emissions over time to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees ... and to establish effective institutions and systems which will ensure these objectives are implemented successfully.
The Cancun Agreements have created only more empty promises certain to disappoint even the most optimistic of supporters, leaving the international
community with a document that will “continue to be fleshed out among Governments during 2011”.46
3. EXPLORING THE EVOLVING PARADIGM SHIFT
The UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Kimoon has acknowledged the need to develop a political formula to mitigate climate change without delay, calling for an end to the “gamesmanship” that the international community has been playing.47 Addressing the SC on 20 July 2011, Mr Kimoon declared that climate change not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security, “it is a threat to international peace and security”.48 Only four years prior to this statement the SecretaryGeneral remarked at the 2007 SC climate change meeting that projected climate changes could “ have serious ... implications for peace and security”.49 The SecretaryGeneral’s change in attitude clearly illustrates the significant evolution that has occurred within the international community towards understanding what constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
Part 3 of this article explores the evolution of the concept of security, illustrating how the threat of climate change has contributed to the development of a new understanding of an international security threat in the 21st century. The article illustrates the alarming connection between climate change and conflict, using three examples of specific climateinduced security risks, highlighting how water scarcity could turn into global conflict, rising sea levels could cause interstate violence, and the spread of infectious diseases may cause political instability.
3.2 Security in the 21st Century
Climate change has traditionally been classified as an environmental issue, not afforded a highpriority status by international security analysts.50 This indifference was largely due to the fact that, during the 20th century, the implications of climate change were considered to be a remote threat, with a great deal of uncertainty associated with climate change predictions.51 As
security risks have contemporarily been understood as being associated with combat warfare, encompassing the idea of traditional militant threats, the distant possibility of environmentally induced conflicts did not fall within the parameters of what has conventionally been recognised as a security threat: “security has typically and traditionally been couched in the language of war, security of territory from external aggression”.52 This realist philosophy perceives the concept of security as centring upon a state’s security, upon protecting individual countries from outside, extraterritorial threats. However, the realist perspective of international relations fails to sufficiently account for issues of environmental and human security: “it views states as territorially distinct and mutually exclusive ... realist beliefs provide no incentive to solve transboundary ecological problems cooperatively”.53
The narrow realist understanding of international security began to steadily shift as the international community became increasingly interconnected, engulfed within an evolution coined “globalisation”.54 As state borders disin tegrated, so too have statecentric attitudes, replaced instead with a revised understanding of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security. International actors began considering how environmental damage could act as a threat multiplier, adopting a revised understanding of security threats as encompassing a much wider spectrum of conflicts: “simply invoking traditional notions of security as external threats to a single state fails to grapple with the interconnectedness of ecology and economy”.55
With the collapse of the bipolar global security structure in the 1980s, subsequent threats to national borders were identified, including the idea of environmentally induced conflicts.56 Academic scholar Richard Ullman warned that defining security, absolutely, in terms of military threats, was counterproductive as it “conveys a false image of reality because it allows states to ignore other, more harmful dangers, thereby reducing their overall
regarding predictions of climate change over the next century, the timing of changes together with an assessment of the uncertainness associated with these predications”.
security”.57 The 1987 landmark publication, the Bruntland Commissions’ report, Our Common Future, alluded to the issue of resource shortages, acknowl edging that a resource crisis could lead to violent conflict.58 Following the publication of the Bruntland Report, numerous scholars began to discuss the evolving nature of security, considering the effects that environmental stress could have upon already fragile states. University of Toronto scholar Thomas HomerDixon published a series of texts linking environmental degradation to militant conflicts in vulnerable states.59 HomerDixon argued that environmental change can lead to conflict through “reduced agricultural production, economic decline, population displacement, and disruption of regular and legitimized social relations”.60
Multilateral conversations centred upon identifying the inherent dangers that environmental degradation may pose indirectly to international security have initiated a series of attitude changes across the world that has led to a redefinition of what can contemporarily be defined as a threat to international peace and security:61
The topic of environmental security reflects both the growing awareness that there is more to national security than border integrity and the realisation that defending this security requires more than military capabilities.
In 1992 the SC acknowledged the possibility that ecological threats may fall within the realm of the Council’s concerns, declaring that “the nonmilitary sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields have become threats to peace and security”.62 Recognising the evolving nature of security, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan assembled a panel of experts in September 2003 to consider what may constitute a threat to international peace and security.63 The High Level Panel on Threat, Challenges and Change
defined international peace and security as “any event or process that leads to largescale death or lessening of life chances and undermines States as the basic unit of the international system”, including climate change and environmental degradation within their definition of a “soft threat”.64
On 17 April 2007 the SC held its first landmark debate specifically addressing the impact of climate change on international peace and security.65 This debate marks a significant change in the international community’s attitude towards the composition of a security threat. SecretaryGeneral Ban Kimoon recognised that anticipated changes in the climate could not only have serious effects on the environment, but could also have a significant impact upon international peace and security.66 Following the 2007 SC meeting, the international community continued to revise their understanding of climate change as an international threat to peace and security. UN General Assembly Resolution 63/281 entitled Climate change and its possible security implications called for the SecretaryGeneral to produce a report on the possible security implications of climate change.67 The subsequent report compiled by the SecretaryGeneral in 2009 notably does not consider the role of the SC in the mitigation of climate change, but explicitly links climate change with global conflicts, outlining the catastrophe that will prevail unless there is an increase in policy coherence and cooperation across the UN system.68
In the European Union, the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solona, published a report entitled “Climate Change and International Security” advocating for climate security to be integrated within the European Commission’s Directorate General for External Relations.69 In the United States of America, the 2010 United States National Security Strategy states that “the danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe”. The United States Department of Defense’s Quadrennial Defense Review describes
climate change as “an accelerant of instability or conflict”.70 The United Kingdom concluded within their National Security Strategy 2010, that “climate change is potentially the greatest challenge to global stability and security, and therefore to national security”.71
On 20 July 2011 the SC convened its second landmark debate to consider whether the SC could play a role in the mitigation of climate change as an international threat to peace and security.72 In convening the SC debate, Peter Wittig, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, considered the call from General Assembly Resolution 63/281 which invites “the relevant organs of the UN, as appropriate, within their respective mandates, to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change”.73 Wittig asked the SC to consider what mechanisms could be used to bring the security implications of climate change, relevant to the work of the SC, to its attention and how the SC and regional organisations, working on peace and security, could complement each other with regard to the security implications of climate change.74 Although the SC did not pass a binding resolution declaring outrightly that climate change amounts to a threat to international peace and security, the most recent SC debate signals that there is a clear understanding in the international community that climate change will increasingly be recognised as a dangerous catalyst likely to exacerbate devastating global conflicts.75
3.3 Climate Change Translated as a Security Threat
As illustrated, there is clear evidence pointing towards a renewal in the international community’s understanding of the composition of the legal and political concept of a security threat. The international community has developed a conception of climate change as a passiveaggressive, non traditional security threat: “climate change acts as a threat multiplier in that it exacerbates already fragile situations and creates even more political instability”.76 Speaking to the SC on 17 April 2007, Robert Aisi of Papua New Guinea, representative of the Pacific Islands Forum, stated that “the impact of climate change on small islands is no less threatening than the dangers that
76 Gupta, above n 14, at 8.
guns and bombs pose to large nations”.77 Aisi told the SC that, as some of the most vulnerable communities in the world, the Pacific was already witnessing the very real effects of climate change. On 20 July 2011, addressing the SC, the President of the Republic of Nauru, Mr Marcus Stephen, illustrated the urgency of the matter at hand, describing the daunting reality facing his people: “many of our countries face the single greatest security challenge of all, that is, our survival”.78
The United Nations Human Development (UNHD) Report 2007, Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world, considered a number of security risks posed by climate change a likely eventuality if the international community failed to act appropriately.79 A perceived climateinduced security threat noted in the UNHD Report is the disintegration of agricultural systems, particularly in subSaharan Africa, resulting in up to 600 million people facing malnutrition.80 A further 1.8 billion people will be at risk from water scarcity by 2080 with up to onethird of a billion people living in coastal regions being displaced by tropical storms and flooding.81 By 2050 coastal development and population growth in some regions in Australia and New Zealand are likely to face risks from a rise in sea levels and an increase in the brutality and regularity of storms and coastal flooding.82 Acting as a threat multiplier by contributing to droughts, desertification, food shortages and potential resource wars, “climate change can clearly be shown to catalyse violent conflict, which can in turn ultimately threaten international peace and security”.83
It is important to establish this clear link between security conflicts and the climatic factors exacerbating the conflicts and to understand that climate- induced conflict is most probable within states already suffering from a whole host of other ill-beings: “environmental scarcity is never a sole or sufficient cause of large migrations, poverty, or violence; it always joins with other economic, political and social factors to produce its effects”.84 Three examples of climate-induced conflicts that are likely to afflict vulnerable Pacific nations are that rising sea levels could cause interstate violence, water scarcity could turn into global conflict, and the spread of infectious diseases could lead to a national security crisis.
84 HomerDixon Environment, Scarcity and Violence, above n 59, at 16.
In the UN Report Climate change and its possible security implications the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon identified rising sea levels as the “ultimate security threat” for small island states.85 The islands forming the Pacific region are particularly vulnerable to the threat posed by rising sea levels due to their lowlying geographical nature, creating the distressing realisation that UN member states may simply cease to exist. Inhabitants of the Solomon Islands have already begun to move to Papua New Guinea as a result of flooding that has caused significant parts of their country to become uninhabitable.86 Reports have indicated that by 2015 the Solomon Islands may be totally engulfed by water as a result of climate change and rising sea levels:87
On the frontlines of conflict, there are surging waves of fighters. Here, there are surging waves of the ocean. These ocean waves can be more dangerous than an army. They can wipe out whole islands.
The SC has acknowledged that mass migration is a threat to international peace and security, predicating that by 2050 there could be between 150 to 200 million climate change refugees.88 Climateinduced migration is likely to exacerbate conflict in at least three ways. The arrival of climate refugees could lead to competition over diminishing natural and economic resources, a wave of climate migrants of different ethnic origin to the local population could give rise to ethnic tension, and a large flow of migrants may aggravate mistrust between the states involved.89
Solomon Times Online <www.solomontimes.com>.
In a world where over 2 billion people are currently living in states afflicted with moderate to high water shortages and with half of the world’s population suffering from inadequate sanitation and safe drinking water, changes in the variability of rainfall will continue to aggravate water scarcity.90 About 1.7 million people perish every year due to a lack of safe access to drinking water, with projections by the IPCC indicating that between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people could be subjected to water scarcity by 2080.91
Water shortages intensified by climate change are likely to aggravate social and political tensions exacerbating internal security challenges faced by the Pacific region.92 At the Asia-Pacific Water Summit in 2007 the UN Secretary- General, Ban Kimoon, noted that high population growth, rising consumption, pollution and poor water management are all contributing to a water crisis which is exacerbated by climate change: “the consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and armed conflict.”93
The rate at which global temperatures have been predicated by the IPCC to be rising will be likely to cause a dramatic increase in the spread of infectious diseases which could in turn have a serious impact on national security.94 As temperatures on the earth continue to rise at a steady pace, mosquitoes will move into previously uncharted territories, carrying with them deadly diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.95 The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that around 154,000 deaths a year can already be attributed to the effects of climate change due to the spread of malaria and malnutrition. This figure has been predicted to double by only 2020: “climate change poses substantial risks to human health, particularly among the poorer nations”.96 In
96 At 10. See also World Health Organization “Fact File: 10 Facts on Climate Change and Health” (2009) World Health Organization <www.who.int>.
Papua New Guinea, for example, most people currently live beyond the upper altitudinal limit of the malarial mosquito; however, this limit is expected to change in line with temperatures rising, thus bringing a significant number of people within the reach of this mosquito.97
Health problems can metamorphose into a national security crisis if sufficient numbers of people are affected by the disease, inevitably leading to serious economic and social consequences. The very real threat that the spread of infectious diseases can have on international security can be illustrated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.98 On 7 June 2011 the SC passed Resolution 1983 acknowledging HIV/AIDS as a threat to international peace and security, emphasising that “HIV/AIDS poses one of the most formidable challenges to the development, progress and stability of societies and requires an exceptional and comprehensive global response”.99 The acknowledgement of HIV/AIDS as a threat to international peace and security not only signifies the international community’s acceptance of nontraditional threats affecting security, but also indicates the likelihood of the SC accepting the security threat that the spread of infectious disease poses as a result of the increase in global temperatures caused by climate change.
4. MANAGING THE UNMANAGEABLE
International climate change frameworks to date have been designed under the umbrella of the UNFCCC, with leaders using a tool box of diplomacy, mediation and negotiation skills in an attempt to implement a suitable global prevention framework. As evidenced, however, this process has been burdened with the conflicting interests of states stalling the possibility of building a binding post2012 global framework.100 Treaty fatigue is wearing down the international community, and leaders tasked with the almighty assignment of reaching an international consensus post2012 need a fresh perspective on this grave issue. The evolution that has occurred within the international security paradigm has resulted in the possibility that climate change could be included on the SC’s agenda. Writing to the SecretaryGeneral on 5 July 2011, Peter
Wittig, the German Representative to the UN, asked the SC to consider whether the current UN climate change system is prepared to deal with the security risks resulting from, for example, predicted rises in sea level.101
Part 4 of this article examines whether, in theory, the SC possesses the legal capability to address the security concerns induced by climate change, exploring whether Chapter VII of the UN Charter could be invoked by the SC to mitigate the effects of climate change.102 The article argues that although the new security scenario is manifestly different from the landscape of the 20th century, future climate change negotiations should be managed by a multilayered strategy of actions, executed by a global response, including invoking, where appropriate, the SC: “a coherent, integrated and holistic response by the United Nations is the only way to meaningfully contribute towards a response to this issue”.103
4.2 Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter
The SC is the principal organ within the international community charged with the mandate to maintain international peace and security.104 Within the UN, the SC alone possesses the coercive legal authority sufficient to compel state action when international peace and security is threatened: “in order to ensure prompt and effective action by the UN, its Members confer on the SC primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”.105
Article 34 of the UN Charter enables the SC to investigate any “dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security”.106 Pursuant to art 25 of the Charter, UN member states are legally obliged to comply with decisions of the SC: “the Members of the UN agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the SC in accordance with the present Charter”.107 Article 48 of the UN Charter reinforces the binding nature of SC decisions:108
The action required to carry out the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security shall be taken by all the Members of the United Nations or by some of them, as the Security Council may determine.
108 Art 48(1).
The UN General Assembly and the UN SecretaryGeneral, pursuant to arts 11(3) and 99 of the Charter, can refer situations which may amount to a threat to international peace and security to the SC.109
The coercive legal authority that enables the SC to recommend or require state action to address a threat to international peace and security is codified within Chapter VII of the Charter.110 Article 39 of the Charter establishes the threshold required for the SC to invoke its Chapter VII collective security powers:111
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The drafters of the UN Charter declined to limit or constrain the Council’s authority by defining “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression”. The terms were deliberately left undefined so as to give the SC flexibility in responding to new and unforeseen circumstances.112 Rather, the legal meaning can be derived by analysing the instances in which the SC has invoked its Chapter VII collective security powers. Traditionally, “Chapter VII measures have been directed against specific states or non-state entities, to remedy particular and defined threats”.113 As illustrated in part 3 of this article, however, the definition of a security threat has significantly evolved from encompassing only a traditional understanding of combat warfare:114
Recent practice indicates a further willingness to address global security threats in the absence of clearly defined geographical or temporal parameters and a nascent trend toward acceptance of nontraditional soft security issues as “threats to international peace and security” within the meaning of Chapter VII.
In determining whether a situation may amount to a threat to international peace and security the SC must assess whether the circumstances are of an international concern. Article 2 of the UN Charter explicitly states that “nothing
114 At 51.
contained in the present Charter shall authorize the UN to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”.115 The SC is also limited in that it must determine a situation within the confinements of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter: “the determination that there exists such a threat is not a totally unfettered discretion and has to remain, at the very least, within the limits of the Purposes and Principles of the Charter”.116
Should the SC determine the existence of a threat to international peace and security, Chapter VII provides for a series of collective security methods available for the SC to implement. Article 40 of the Charter mandates for the use of a variety of nonforceful measures, art 41 provides for economic and diplomatic sanctions and art 42 allows for the use of coercive military force.117 Express consent by member states of the UN is not required once the SC has voted to invoke Chapter VII authority based on the implicit consent principle provided by member states’ ratification of the Charter.118
4.3 Expanding Horizons: the Security Council’s Broadening Mandate
As the security paradigm has evolved, the SC too has expanded its mandate so as to act in response to contemporary threats to international peace and security. The Charter of the UN was designed in the postWorld War II era where the catastrophic events of the previous decade were at the forefront of the Allies’ minds. The authors of the Charter considered threats to international peace and security as being centred upon crossborder security issues as actual or threatened interstate armed conflicts. As this article has illustrated, however, the international community’s conception of a security threat has significantly evolved. An acceptance of this fact can be highlighted by noting the broad range of instances in which the SC has invoked its Chapter VII powers in recent years. This article will turn to underline several examples that illustrate the SC’s acceptance of the revised international security paradigm, supporting the
argument that the SC could, in theory, use its Chapter VII collective security powers to combat climate change as a threat to international peace and security.119
Contributing to a redefinition of security are the examples of the SC resolutions that have dealt with intra-state conflicts, humanitarian crises, HIV/ AIDS, international terrorism and small arms and light weapons proliferation.120 In SC Resolution 918 concerning the humanitarian crisis in Rwanda, the Council declared that the situation “constitutes a threat to peace and security”, noting that “the massive exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries constitutes a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions”.121 The SC also considered the situation in Haiti, concluding that the fleeing of refugees to neighbouring states and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation amounted to a threat to peace and security in the region: “it seems that none of the circumstances by itself constitute a threat to the peace and security in the region, but it must be presumed that all the circumstances taken together constituted such a threat”.122 In 1991 the SC considered the environmental effects of the conflict in the Congo, critical of the exploitation of natural resources to finance the conflict and war, suggesting that the Council was prepared to consider factors outside its traditional mandate, so long as they amounted to an international threat to peace and security.123
In responding to terrorism as an emerging threat to international peace and security, the SC affirmed the power codified within Rule 28 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the SC, implementing a Committee of the SC to monitor implementation of Resolution 1373.124 In classifying terrorism as a threat to international peace and security, the SC dispelled any prior notions that the Council’s collective security powers were limited to a specific geographic
121 Rwanda SC Res 918, S/RES/918 (1994).
122 Haiti SC Res 940, S/RES/940 (1994).
event in time.125 The SC again reaffirmed its power codified within Rule 28 and created a committee pursuant to Resolution 1540 to enforce its Chapter VII powers that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were a threat to international peace and security.126 Pursuant to Resolutions 1373 and 1540 the SC established two specific committees, the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and the CounterTerrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) to enforce the implementation of the resolutions: “the SC effectively took on legislative — or at least quasilegislative powers”.127
There is sufficient evidence pointing to the SC’s consideration and acceptance of a wide range of evolving, contemporary security concerns. Therefore, should the SC continue to evolve its contemporary understanding of security, determining that climate change is a threat to international peace and security, in theory, pursuant to art 41 of the Charter, the SC could impose mandatory emissions reduction targets upon all UN members and require UN states to enact relevant domestic legislation to mitigate climate change. It would also be within the Council’s powers to establish a subsidiary body, pursuant to Resolutions 1373 and 1540, to oversee the implementation of national climate change mitigation schemes thereby ensuring state compliance.128 It is, however, unlikely that the use of force, legislated for within art 42 of the UN Charter, would be appropriate to invoke in the climate change scenario. Engaging in military action goes against the spirit of cooperation embedded within the UNFCCC: “the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response”.129
4.4 Politically Speaking: Climate Change and the Security Council
This article has argued that there is compelling evidence pointing towards the likelihood of the international community witnessing an increase of climate
induced conflicts, concluding that, in theory, Chapter VII of the UN Charter provides the SC the legal authority to respond to climate change as a threat to international peace and security. However, it is important to analyse whether, politically speaking, the members of the SC are realistically prepared to authorise such mitigation mechanisms to mitigate the effects of climate change. One theory that queries the parameters of the Council’s mandate considers that security may cease to mean anything if it means everything: “by using the security frame, the concept may be tied to militarised solutions that are inappropriate ways of resolving the underlying issues or that divert attention from less nationalist problemsolving means”.130
In order for the SC to pass a resolution declaring that climate change is a threat to international peace and security, invoking Chapter VII powers, an affirmative vote of nine members of the SC, including the vote of all members of the Permanent 5 (P5), is required.131 Therefore, “whether its individual members choose to exercise this authority remains the crucial ingredient for the implementation of remedial enforcement measures” as, if this threshold is not met, the SC will not be able to act.132 Although a nonbinding document, the 2011 Presidential Statement subsequent to the 20 July SC debate “underlines” General Assembly Resolution 63/281, indicating the SC’s view that “the UNFCCC is the key instrument for addressing climate change”. The Presidential Statement, however, notes that “the relevant organs of the UN as appropriate” are invited to intensify their efforts to combat climate change.133 This Statement implies that the SC is of the opinion that, although the UNFCCC should remain the primary UN organ responsible for leading climate change mitigation attempts, there is room within the international system for “other relevant organs”, including the SC, to play a part in the mitigation process, leaving it open for “the relevant organs” to ascertain where and when such participation may be appropriate.
During the 2007 and 2011 SC meetings on climate change as an inter national threat to peace and security, SC members were notably divided over asserting exactly what role the SC should adopt in the mitigation of climate change. Given the weight placed upon voting in the SC it is interesting to analyse the position of SC members’, in particular the P5, stance adopted during the 2011 SC debate on climate change as a threat to international peace and security.134 This article will turn to examine the contrasting opinions of the P5 members of the SC during the 2011 SC debate.
The Representative for China, Mr Wang Min, accepted that “climate change may affect security” but hailed it as a “sustainable development issue”, arguing that the SC “lacks expertise in climate change and the necessary means and resources” to act on this matter.135 The Representative for Russia, Mr Pankin, acknowledged that his country had compromised their beliefs to join the consensus, when General Assembly Resolution 63/281 was adopted in 2009. He clarified Russia’s position on 20 July 2011: “referring to the General Assembly Resolution to justify the consideration of this issue in the Council is not right”.136 Pankin noted that Resolution 63/281 does not explicitly refer to the SC, arguing that the report only refers to “hypothetical impacts of climate change on security and is not able to precisely predict them”. Pankin argued that the priority role in this area lies and should continue to lie with the UNFCCC, asserting that involving the SC in a regular review of the issue of climate change “would bring no added value whatsoever and would merely lead to a further politicization of the issue and increased disagreements among countries”.137
Issues of state compliance currently being experienced by the UNFCCC, highlighted through the unenforceability of the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements, would not automatically be resolved if the SC played a part in the mitigation of climate change. A primary reason the international community has found itself stalled within the current state of treaty fatigue can largely be attributed to the fact that states cannot agree on how to equitably mitigate climate change. The principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” is at the forefront of issues currently being experienced within the UNFCCC, and the SC is likely to experience these same issues of compliance. If the SC were to pass a resolution determining, for example, that the rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands constitute a threat to peace and security and subsequently impose Chapter VII measures to control this threat, who does the SC address such measures to? Can the SC impose measures upon all member states of the UN even though no one state can be directly attributed to having caused the rising sea levels?138
In contrast to the cynical opinions held by China and Russia, the repre sentative for the United States of America, Ms Rice, stated on 20 July 2011 that the “SC needs to start now, today, and in the days to come to act on the understanding that climate change exacerbates the risks and dynamics of
United Kingdom, the United States of America and the 10 nonpermanent members: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Gabon, Germany, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal and South Africa.
137 At 13.
138 Ng, above n 52, at 289.
conflicts”.139 The position adopted by the United States of America is that the SC does have a vital role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change: “we strongly believe that the Council has an essential responsibility to address the clearcut peace and security implication of changing climate”.140 The United Kingdom first brought the issue of climate change and security to the SC in 2007 and expanded upon its original stance during the 2011 debate. Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the representative for the United Kingdom to the UN, argued that as the SC is tasked with maintaining international peace and security it can and should consider emerging threats: “conflict prevention is a key element in the Council’s work”.141 Lyall Grant acknowledged that the task of tackling climate change requires a conjoint approach, advocating for the implementation of a globally binding agreement on climate change under the UNFCCC: “history will not judge us kindly if, through complacency or ideology, we duck this important responsibility”.142
One concern that states argued over during the course of the debate was whether the SC was infringing upon the competency of other UN bodies. The representative for France, Mr Araud, confronted this issue, stating that the SC was not overstepping other UN bodies, in particular stating that the SC does not wish to replace other forums: “the Council today is simply facing up to a new type of threat that is multiform, complex and diffuse”.143 Mr Araud expressed his disappointment that the SC was unable to reach a consensus upon the issue at hand: “to oppose with bureaucratic concerns the anguished appeals by our partners threatened by climate change does not rise to the issues at stake. It is not dignified.”144
The international community has a responsibility to invoke a multilayered strategy to mitigate climate change by calling upon all functions of the UN to address this catastrophic, multilayered environmental and security threat.145 The invitation by the SecretaryGeneral for the relevant organs of the UN, as appropriate, within their respective mandates, to intensify their efforts to address climate change enables the UNFCCC to continue designing an appropriate mitigation framework, but also recognises the myriad of other issues the climate change issue encompasses.146 The President of Nauru, Mr Marcus Stephen, considered this diplomatic approach during the 2011 SC debate, asserting
141 At 12.
142 At 12.
143 At 15.
144 At 15.
 (Report of the SecretaryGeneral).
that the UNFCCC “is and must remain the primary forum for developing an international strategy to mitigate climate change”. President Stephen addressed the role for the SC, specifically noting several concrete steps that could be taken by the SC to mitigate climate change.147 Urging the SC not to “bury their heads in the sand”, President Stephen made a recommendation for the SC to initiate action by appointing a representative on security and climate with a responsibility to analyse the projected security impacts of climate change over the next couple of years.148
5. NATIONAL ACTION IN THE FACE OF INTERNATIONAL INDECISION
The international community needs to combat climate change with the implementation of an international, legally binding GHG reduction agreement. However, as a Pacific Island itself, New Zealand should not solely rely upon this hope translating into an eventuality: “dependence on a mitigation solution is perilous because the international community is dragging its feet in reaching an effective emissions reduction agreement”.149 The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has acknowledged the evolving conception of climate change as a security threat: “in recent years our understanding of threats to New Zealand’s prosperity has broadened to include environmental threats such as climate change”.150 Further evidence of the broader understanding of climate change is referenced within the 2010 New Zealand Defence White Paper: “climate change ... has the potential to exacerbate existing tensions and pressures and create new fracture lines, increasing the risk of conflict both within states and between them”.151
First Secretary Anthony Simpson illustrated New Zealand’s understanding of climate change as a security concern on 20 July 2011, highlighting the country’s adaptation and development projects implemented through a number of bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives: “our climate change adaptation assistance in the Pacific places a strong emphasis on ‘climate-proofing’ new
148 At 24.
infrastructure”.152 Part 5 of this article addresses New Zealand’s ongoing role within the Pacific region, emphasising the importance of national action within the face of indecisiveness in the wider international community.153
5.2 New Zealand in the Pacific
New Zealand has traditionally taken a leadership position, supporting the Pacific region by providing aid and assistance to the fragile area, acting “as a Pacific expert for countries without traditional links to the region”.154 MFAT’s 2011– 2014 Statement of Intent highlights New Zealand’s longstanding relationship with other Pacific nations: “having long seen ourselves as having a particular responsibility to and an interest in our near neighbourhood of the Pacific”.155 Making an ongoing commitment to continue to support the Pacific region, the New Zealand Government, pursuant to the UN Millennium Development Goals, has pledged to support the Pacific, working towards a sustainable future with hopes of eventually eradicating poverty.156 Through the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), the Government has chosen to focus upon the strengthening of education, health, governance, economic growth and livelihoods and the environment within the vulnerable area.157
The New Zealand Government, as a developed nation, has made an international commitment to support developing countries to meet the dual challenges of mitigating emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.158 New Zealand has an obligation pursuant to arts 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5 of the UNFCCC to provide financial resources and technology transfer to enable
developing countries to implement the provisions of the UNFCCC: “the developed country Parties ... shall also assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation”.159
Pursuant to the obligations embedded within the UNFCCC, the New Zealand Government supports a range of climate change mitigation activities within the Pacific region.160 For example, from 2008 to 2009 NZAID allocated
$6.5 million for its Pacific Regional Environment Programme.161 NZAID also provided separate assistance of approximately $10 million to Pacific regional organisations that work on sustainable natural resource management, disaster risk reduction, renewable energy and climate change.162
As well as providing regional support, New Zealand has implemented several bilateral mechanisms to support vulnerable Pacific states.163 Gazetted within its Pacific Strategy 2007–2015, NZAID highlighted the issue of water scarcity as a ramification of climate change, recognising that the Pacific will increasingly experience pressure on water supply systems through droughts and flooding events.164 NZAID pledged to support adaptation to climate change particularly through enhanced water management and enhanced preparedness for disasters such as cyclones, droughts and floods.165 Evidence of this support can be seen through the recent implementation of 10 rainwater harvesting
162 At 30.
165 At 28.
systems in South Tarawa, Kiribati.166 Funded through the NZAID programme, the Rainwater Harvesting Project aims to provide better access to safe drinking water through the installation of rainwater capture and storage systems on large public buildings.
5.3 At Home: New Zealand’s Domestic GHG Reductions
This article does not presume to present a detailed analysis evaluating New Zealand’s commitments to the UNFCCC, but rather aims to highlight the importance of a workable national mitigation scheme to reduce GHG emissions within the susceptible region of the Pacific. To help prevent catastrophic climate changes in the Pacific, pursuant to the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand has pledged to reduce its national GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. Following the 2009 Copenhagen Accord the New Zealand Government recognised a non binding mediumterm responsibility target to reduce GHG emissions by 10 to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.167 A further longterm target to reduce GHG levels by 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 was gazetted in March 2011.168
New Zealand’s primary domestic mitigation mechanism, designed to reduce the nation’s GHG emissions for the period 2008 to 2020, the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008, was implemented by the New Zealand Government on 25 September 2008. The ETS employs a timetable for introducing a complex GHG ETS into specific offending sectors in the country, operating as a marketbased regulatory instrument designed to reduce GHG emissions.169 However, despite the New Zealand Government’s good intentions and evidence that New Zealand’s GHG emissions have fallen 3 per cent in 2009 compared to 2008 levels, total emissions for 2009 were reported at being 19 per cent higher than 1990 levels.170 Adamant that New Zealand
will still meet their 2010 Kyoto Protocol target, the Government’s mitigation approach is questionable and fails to instil confidence in the likelihood of New Zealand meeting its 2020 and 2050 targets.171 As a result of extensive plantation in the early to mid-1990s, New Zealand is offsetting a significant proportion of its emissions through these forest sequestrations. However, the Government will not be able to rely on this offsetting mechanism in 2020 as harvesting is anticipated to surpass the rate at which carbon is newly stored in forests.172
In theory the ETS provides an effective, innovative mitigation framework: “the ETS is working as intended ... the implementation has gone smoothly and New Zealand is now on target to meet its Kyoto obligations”;173 however, the UN has reported that there is a large credibility gap between New Zealand’s target for reducing GHG emissions by 2020 and the measures in place to achieve it.174 The UN “could find no plan for two-thirds or more of what is required to meet the 2020 target”.175 The findings of the UN should be taken very seriously with the announcement from the UN review team that “New Zealand’s response to climate change is inadequate”.176 As a developed nation in the Pacific region, New Zealand needs to be seen as a leader in climate change mitigation techniques and cannot be caught cutting corners. It is clear that shortterm mitigation plans will not repair the potentially devastating long term picture for the people of the Pacific Islands.
The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report unequivocally identifies human-induced climate change as being one of the greatest, most unprecedented threats to face mankind: “there is new and clearer evidence that the majority of the warming that has taken place in the last 50 years is due to human activity”.177 The global response to climate change, initiated by the international community an astounding 22 years ago, highlights the universal acceptance by states that climate change is undeniably affecting every corner of the planet. It is
177 IPCC WG1 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), Summary for policymakers, Understanding and Attributing Climate Change (2007) 10, at <http://ipcc wgl.ucar.edu/wgl/Report/ AR4WGlPrintSPM.pdf> .
ironic, however, that despite the acceptance of climate change as being one of the greatest threats to the existence of humanity, concluding an agreement implementing a plausible global mitigation framework seems unattainable. Although naming the problem an international crisis, parties to the UNFCCC have carried with them into international climate change negotiations pre conceived, selfcentred attitudes, setting about reaching a consensus armed with selfinterest as their number one priority.
Addressing the SC on 20 July 2011, the President of the Republic of Nauru, Mr Marcus Stephen, made a very sobering statement:178
Many countries have expressed concerns about the SC encroaching on the mandate of the General Assembly and the UNFCCC. We understand and share this concern ... . However, we are more concerned about the physical encroachment of the rising seas on our island nations.
President Stephen did not shy away from clearly articulating the reality of climate change for the people of the Pacific region. For the Pacific Islands, the climate change time bomb is continuously ticking while the international community is consumed by arguing over mitigation logistics, in conflict over which UN division will provide the most suitable arena in which to mitigate the effects of climate change.
SecretaryGeneral Ban Kimoon remarked during COP16 in Cancun 2010 that “nature will not wait while we negotiate ... the world — particularly the poor and vulnerable — cannot afford the luxury of waiting for the perfect agreement”.179 It is imperative for the very sake of the Pacific region’s survival that the international community unites to implement an allinclusive, multilayered mitigation process. It is clear that after 22 years of negotiation, the codification of the “perfect agreement” is intangible. Instead of focusing upon implementing this perceived “perfect agreement”, the international community should channel their focus upon invoking the use of all the collective mechanisms available under the UN umbrella to combat climate change.
This article has illustrated how climate change is going to increasingly exacerbate violent global conflicts, acting as a threat to international peace and security, asking therefore, whether the SC could play a part in the mitigation of climate change in the face of uncertainty within the UNFCCC. As the SC is the primary international organisation charged with the mandate to maintain international peace and security, it is only appropriate for the Council to consider climate change in the context of a security threat. The states that have
focused their dissent upon arguing that the SC is not an appropriate realm in which to consider this issue fail to take into consideration the longterm picture that the dangers of climate change present to the international community. There is sufficient academic and scientific evidence that clearly denotes that climate change is an increasing threat to international peace and security. Therefore, in keeping with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility”, strongly embedded within the UNFCCC, when applied to the varying organs of the UN, there is a clear logic in the SC continuing to monitor the interrelated security and climate change situation.
As the international security arena evolves, the SC will need to continue to be openminded so as to act appropriately as different security situations manifest themselves in the future. This article does not presume to recommend the immediate implementation of Chapter VII enforcement measures, but wishes to simply highlight the role the SC may play in the mitigation of climate change in the future, thus dispelling any ideas that the SC does not have a mandate to do so. When entering international negotiations on climate change in the future, leaders should consider the role of all functions of the UN. The international community has found itself in a unique position whereby leaders have the power to advocate for the mitigation of climate change under the wider umbrella of the UN. To ignore the role of the SC in the mitigation of climate change, denying the indisputable link between global climatic changes and the outbreak of violent global conflicts, is naive and short-sighted: “these new security challenges require us to think creatively and to adapt our traditional approaches to better meet the needs of our new era”.180