Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia before the vote on UNSC draft resolution on climate and security
As we repeatedly stated before, the draft resolution on climate and security which is under consideration today is unacceptable to Russia. Let me again explain our position. The co-sponsors did not and do not want to listen to our elaborations, nor did they want to talk meaningfully about that. They would not accept any arguments – either from us or other SC and UN member states.
We are opposed to establishing a new track of UNSC activities that asserts a generic automatic link between climate change and the international security, thus turning a scientific and socio-economic problem into a political issue. Draft resolution’s provisions that suggest making this link the “central component” of UN conflict prevention strategies and mandates of peacekeeping and special political missions are fraught with a wide range of consequences.
Firstly, consideration of climate change as a threat to international security diverts the attention of the Council from true root causes of conflicts in countries that stand on UNSC agenda. This comes in handy to the states who added to occurrence of such conflicts, engaged in hostilities in circumvention of SC mandates, or who simply do not want to render practical development assistance to the countries in need. It is noteworthy that the dire climate situation in many of the most vulnerable states is a direct consequence of the colonial policy that Western donors resorted to in the past. To them I must say: what a graceful idea it was to blame greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the Sun and the Moon for everything, while also shifting the responsibility to the developing states themselves. But you will not be able to pull it off today.
Besides, when presenting climate as the source of political instability, our Western colleagues prefer paying no attention of the Security Council to the reverse side of such allegations, namely – they refuse to consider the negative effects of conflicts for the environment. Loss of biodiversity, shrinking forestlands, use of chemical agents, soil pollution caused by military ventures of interfering in internal affairs of states require decades-long recovery and hardly contribute to mitigating the climate change. We stand ready to double our efforts to draw the attention of the Council to these problems.
Secondly, instability in a concrete state or region is explained by a number of reasons that are very specific for every given case and can differ from one another by structure and the degree of impact. The draft resolution in front of is aimed neither at assistance to states nor at a concrete situation. Instead, it proposes a general approach that is caught up in climate despite the principles of the Rio Declaration and Agenda-2030.
Earlier today I already addressed the initiators of the blame-shifting. Their task is clear. Now let me make a separate address to those who at the behest of the mentioned initiators believed that this lopsided climate-centered approach could be helpful. To make my point, I would like to cite a great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin. He was one of the best to write about love. In one of his poems about a man who is very much in love, there is such a line: «Ah, it is easy to deceive me!...I long to be deceived myself!.». Perhaps, many of the countries in need who look forward to receiving donors’ assistance have a somewhat elevated image of their prospective saviors. It is hard to give any advice here. However, we would suggest turning to history. Unfortunately, it says that donors rarely reciprocate favorable attitude. Yet we do not blame anyone. On the contrary, we have understanding. Many countries simply have no choice when donors impose such vision on them. After all, it is always easier to “keep pace” rather than try to see into the problem.
Now back to the attempt to institute a range of climate-related mandates for political experts. Let me explain in detail why this is unacceptable.
Proposedly, the impact of atmospheric changes on a concrete geographical location can be measured by peacekeepers upon completion of several “career enhancement trainings” over a short period. Then, as suggested, the results of this rather dubious assessment – the impact on peace and security – should be submitted to the Council in the form of UNSG reports. The quality and by far the conclusions of such reports at the very least would be doubtful. Besides, this approach is a “slow-ticking bomb”, which would make it possible to put virtually any state (which someone finds undesirable) on the SC agenda. Climate-related problems impact the whole world, so any pretext will do.
The real climatic studies are a prerogative of climate scientists and hydrometeorologists. This sort of analytical work requires specialized expert education, technical equipment and enough time. Of course, to make political experts derive rash conclusions that would ultimately lead to an interference in internal affairs is much easier than to strengthen monitoring and early response systems for natural disasters in developing countries without any political motivation, isn’t it? And surely much easier than to allocate the money as promised.
Thirdly, mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its negative consequences is an issue of sustainable development. An absolute majority of those who spoke at the recent UNSC open debate organized by the Nigerien Presidency (though the meeting looked more like a session of ECOSOC or UNGA’s Second Committee) affirmed in one way or another that there was nexus connecting climate change and socio-economic challenges. This is why substantive work needs to be done at specialized platforms, of which the UNFCCC is the main one. We find it particularly discouraging, Mr.President, that the draft resolution is put forward now, when UNSC members clearly have no consensus on that and when it has taken states enormous efforts to agree in Glasgow on how the Paris Agreement needs to be implemented, as well as measures that really need to be taken in order to counter the climate change. The climate agenda should play a unifying role to help all individual and collective efforts be a success rather than add more divisions, especially for political purposes.
You are well aware that there is no consensus on the topic of the draft resolution that is put to vote today. You received letters of disagreement from many delegations, both members and non-members of the Security Council. They had expressed their objections either during the mentioned open debate of the Council or even earlier. We call on you to steer the Council clear of being divided on such a crucial topic. It is your responsibility as President to encourage adoption of effective decisions rather than deepen the controversies. I underscore that we are not just going down the path of denial. We have proposed an alternative decision; instead of a unilateral approach, we propose adopting a holistic one that should account for characteristic features of countries and regions. We were impressed by how many states expressed their concern over the challenges that the Sahel is confronted with. Let us then consider our alternative draft resolution. As we already said, the region of Sahel suffers from intertwined climatic, socio-economic and political threats that are exacerbated by terrorism and that need to be considered in one package, while taking into account the regional specifics. If we want to speak about the United Nations and its Security Council rendering real assistance, this is the approach that we must be guided by.