On April 17, the UK will use the prerogative of the chair of the UN Security Council to devote a day to the security implications of climate change. UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is scheduled to deliver a major address meant to put climate-security links squarely on the high table of security policy.
John Ashton, the UK special envoy for climate change and an adviser to Beckett, has been making the case for treating climate as a security issue since he took up the post last fall.
Writing for the BBC Online’s Green Room, Ashton said:
Conflict always has multiple causes, but a changing climate amplifies all the other factors. Katrina and Darfur illustrate how an unstable climate will make it harder to deliver security unless we act more effectively now to neutralise the threat.
Ashton is certain to be instrumental in framing Beckett’s upcoming Security Council session. Just last week in Berlin, Ashton laid out the rationale for the UN session and provided what is likely a sneak preview of Beckett’s main points. He highlighted climate’s coming contributions to conflict through border disputes, migration, contested energy supplies, water, land and fish scarcities, societal stresses from arrested development, and worsening humanitarian crises. In his prepared remarks, Ashton states, "The cumulative impacts of climate change could exacerbate these drivers of conflict, and particularly increase the risk to those states already susceptible to conflict, for example where weak governance and political processes cannot mediate successfully between competing interests."