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UN Security Council right to put climate on agenda, says Christian Aid

26 February 2021


Rescue teams evacuate flood victims in the Ciledug Indah residential area in Jakarta, Indonesia, last Saturday

Rescue teams evacuate flood victims in the Ciledug Indah residential area in Jakarta, Indonesia, last Saturday

CHRISTIAN AID has endorsed Boris Johnson’s warning that climate change is one of the greatest threats to the world’s security.

The UK holds the presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC), and Mr Johnson used this week’s meeting of the Council as an opportunity to draw attention to the part that the climate crisis is playing in increasing threats to justice and peace around the world.

“The UNSC is tasked with confronting the gravest threats to global peace and security, and that’s exactly what climate change represents,” he said.

“From the communities uprooted by extreme weather and hunger to warlords capitalising on the scramble for resources — a warming planet is driving insecurity.”

This message was endorsed by Christian Aid before the meeting on Tuesday. The charity, which has focused much of its campaigning work in recent years on the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest people, praised the UNSC for devoting a session to the issue.

“Climate change is becoming the world’s most serious security threat; so it’s good to see the Security Council putting the issue front and centre,” Christian Aid’s climate-policy lead, Kat Kramer, said.

“Millions of the world’s poorest people are already living with the impacts of climate change, which is forcing displacement, devastating livelihoods, and putting pressure on communities who are competing over resources such as land and water.

“In some countries, these impacts become the drivers of local conflicts which can be instrumentalised by leaders and escalate into violence and war. This threat of violence and insecurity threatens to undermine international peace and security.”

The UNSC also heard from Sir David Attenborough, who echoed Mr Johnson’s warnings. The earth was “perilously close to tipping points that, once past, will send global temperatures spiralling catastrophically higher”, Sir David said.

“If we continue on this path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security — food production, access to water, ambient temperatures, and ocean food-chains.”

Dr Kramer said that a recent study of climate change in regions of conflict in Mali and Somalia showed the devastating consequences of environmental instability, but also how it was exacerbating violence and displacement on the ground. “It’s vital that international leaders get funding directly to local NGOs, particularly women and youth, who know the contexts best,” she concluded.

In addition, the Fairtrade Foundation has published a new report, which argues that the climate crisis is not only harming farming communities overseas, but also threatening Britain’s food supply.

The report, A Climate of Crisis: Farmers, our food and the fight for justice, published to mark Fairtrade Fortnight (22 February-7 March), suggests that as much as 46 per cent of the UK’s emissions are “hidden” because they are generated in other countries as a result of British consumer demand for imported food and other products.

These emissions are raising global temperatures and prompting more extreme weather, making life significantly harder for farmers who produce much of the UK’s food in the developing world.

The Foundation’s chief executive, Mike Gidney, said: “Although the UK is on a welcome path to net zero emissions, if we don’t own up to our hidden emissions our climate policy will never fully succeed in driving down our true footprint, and we will fail the small-scale producers overseas who grow the food we Brits love to consume.

“[We] believe these invisible emissions are ultimately the UK’s responsibility: they take a heavy toll on the farmers who keep our shelves stocked and fridges full, and who are disproportionately affected by climate change.”

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