Energy & Environment

Blinken says climate change worsening conflicts around world

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 14, 2021. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a Thursday speech to the United Nations Security Council said climate change is contributing to numerous global challenges, and is worsening the security of countries like Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Ethiopia.

In his address, Blinken stressed that President Biden has prioritized addressing climate change since assuming office.

“That’s not only because of the devastating – and in some instances, irreversible – implications of climate change for our majestic planet. It’s also because of the cascading effects on virtually every aspect of our lives, from agriculture to infrastructure, from public health to food security,” said Blinken.

The secretary pointed to how recent storms — remnants of Hurricane Ida that devastated Louisiana — impacted New York where the U.N. General Assembly is taking place. He also pointed to how climate change is disproportionately affecting vulnerable and low-income countries.

Blinken offered a few suggestions on what can be done to enhance the fight against climate change.

“First, we have to stop debating whether the climate crisis belongs in the Security Council and instead ask how the Council can leverage its unique powers to tackle the negative impacts of climate on peace and security,” he said.

“Look at almost every place where you see threats to international peace and security today – and you’ll find that climate change is making things less peaceful, less secure, and rendering our response even more challenging. That’s the story of Syria, Mali, Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia, many other places beset by strife,” said Blinken.

Blinken’s assessment echoes a warning the U.N. gave last year that climate change not only worsened existing conflicts, but was likely causing new ones.

“The climate emergency is a danger to peace,” warned Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenča. He pointed to how climate change increases competition for resources, threatens communities affected by rising sea levels and displaces millions of people every year.

“The failure to consider the growing impacts of climate change will undermine our efforts at conflict prevention, peacemaking and sustaining peace, and risk trapping vulnerable countries in a vicious cycle of climate disaster and conflict,” Jenča said.

Climate change was at the forefront of issues to be considered during this year’s U.N. General Assembly, the first in-person assembly to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

While addressing the assembly Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the world to “grow up” and take climate change seriously.

“We must show that we are capable of learning and maturing and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet, but upon ourselves. It’s time for humanity to grow up,” he said.

“We have an awesome power to change things and to change things for the better, and an awesome power to save ourselves,” he added. “My friends, the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end and must come to an end.”

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken Climate change Ethiopia Joe Biden Sudan Syria UN General Assembly UN Security Council United Nations Yemen
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