General Assembly Security Council

UN Security Council Open VTC Debate

“Maintenance of international peace and security: Climate and Security”



24 July 2020


We thank the organisers for convening today’s discussion on “Climate and Security”. The briefings by UN Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca, Colonel Mahamadou MAGAGI, Director of the Centre National d’Études Stratégiques et de Sécurité (CNESS), Niger and Ms. Coral PASISI, Director of the Sustainable Pacific Consultancy, Niue have been useful to understand the impacts of climate change on our planet.



2. There is no doubt that climate change is a matter which requires our immediate attention.  The choices we have made and will make will determine the climate of the future.


3. The international community has come together and addressed issues of climate change through various mechanisms, central to which is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and now the landmark Paris Agreement.  These are inclusive decision-making mechanisms which have tried to hammer out a global consensus on the bedrock of certain principles.  Concrete action to combat climate change has also been taken by countries on the basis of these principles, the foremost amongst which is Common But Differentiated Responsibility, and through various collective decisions.


4. Consequently, when we discuss issues relating to climate change and security, we need to first ask ourselves the question whether we are attempting to build an architecture where none of these principles are taken into consideration.  When it comes to “securitization of climate change”, for example, will it be acceptable if the Security Council holds member states accountable for not implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement? Will countries be held accountable for not providing adequate climate financing? Will the Council make countries responsible for not sharing climate-friendly technologies?


5. Climate change is a multi-dimensional issue and viewing it through the narrow prism of security is akin to over simplifying the issue and taking it out of context.  Global warming and climate change are complicated and difficult issues currently being addressed through an inclusive and global process on the basis of focussed action and broad principles. Instead of strengthening this approach, let us not redress the issue of climate change through punitive measures administered by the UN Security Council. 


6. In recent years, many governments, organizations, scientists, institutions, policy-makers and the media in the developed world have put out a discourse that climate change will somehow lead to political instability, fights over resources, violent conflict, migration or even terrorism and radicalization. In addition, they say that these consequences will always inevitably begin in the already poor countries of the Global South, but their tide will reach the borders of the developed world. These are alarmist scenarios.  Somehow, it is assumed by the promoters of the concept of securitizing climate change that when an issue is portrayed as an “existential threat”, the general public becomes more amenable to accept exceptional or extreme policy responses that are otherwise indefensible.


7. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment report in the chapter on human security has itself clearly stated that, “the evidence on the effect of climate change and variability on violence is contested”. When causes of conflicts are oversimplified, and one automatically assumes that climate change will lead to violent conflicts, then measures for preventing such conflicts, which actually have environmental, socio-economic and political dimensions, can easily overlook them if dealt with as a security issue only.


8. Instead of raising ambition, lets us not raise alarm.


9. What the world needs instead is decisive action at every level to change the trajectory of the threat of climate change.  While the need for action is immediate, it is vital to continue to reinforce multilateral efforts in parallel to individual ones. These efforts need to recognize the diverse challenges and capabilities that countries in different parts of the world have.  Accordingly, the response of these countries to climate change will vary depending on their national capabilities and responsibilities.


10. Furthermore, the developed world, which is primarily responsible for global warming, has hardly fulfilled its pledges to finance climate causes in the developing world nor has it made available carbon removal technologies. Instead of putting in place a robust mitigation, adaptation and resilience strategy to minimize the negative impact of climate change on some of the most vulnerable countries, especially the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, what we are witnessing is an activist move to shift the goal post to securitizing climate change, rather than taking positive climate action.


11. India is a leading contributor of climate action. We have taken significant steps to fight climate change as a responsibility towards our planet. Over the past few years, we have reduced 38 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. We have set additional targets of eliminating single-use plastic by 2022 and installing 450GW of renewable energy and restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.


12. India strongly believes that the only way to generate persistent, long-term and positive action in the area of climate change is through partnerships and, instead of creating alarm, through undertaking sensible and collective action to make a lasting and sustainable impact.


13. An example of how positive global climate action can be taken through partnerships is the initiative of Prime Minister of India along with the French President to set up the International Solar Alliance (ISA).  India has already committed US$ 1.7 billion under our Lines of Credit towards solar projects in various countries.  Prime Minister Modi has also taken the initiative to establish the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure (CDRI).   The India-UN Development Partnership Fund is a practical manifestation of climate action and sustainable development in the spirit of South-South cooperation. 


14. Going forward, progress in combating climate change rests on converting awareness of the problem into action. It therefore falls upon this generation of government, business and civil society to accelerate action individually and through collaboration.  Each of us can make more climate-friendly choices to ease the transition to a carbon-free lifestyle: low-carbon homes, emission free transport and organic diets for example.  But even more important, perhaps, is our power as consumers, voters, leaders and activists.


15. Let us work together in the spirit of “The World is One Family”.  This is how India has always approached global issues.  Let us view climate change as an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and seek equitable and inclusive solutions to build a greener, cleaner and a sustainable world.