A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday urged the international community to further support developing countries fostering advancements in global climate governance.
China supports the international community in strengthening policy coordination and increasing support for developing countries in funding, technology and capacity-building, driving ongoing progress in global climate governance, said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations.
It has been observed that developing countries with weak climate resilience experience frequent occurrences of extreme weather events and natural disasters, resulting in significant damage to their development achievements, exacerbating resource constraints and spurring ethnic conflicts, Zhang told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
At the same time, Zhang said, "the intricate connection between climate change and security risks remains incompletely understood, and the exact transmission mechanism between the two is yet to be fully comprehended".
A problem-oriented approach should be adopted, identifying root causes and proposing effective solutions, Zhang said, offering examples from Haiti to Iraq.
In Haiti, recent floods worsened the humanitarian situation tied to climate change, but gang violence and political corruption are fundamental challenges, said Zhang.
In Iraq, ecological issues related to climate change, such as water shortage and desertification exist, but the main challenge is the aftermath of foreign invasion, he said, adding that war has irreversibly damaged Iraq's environment, making land unusable.
"It is worth considering why extreme climates have varying economic and social consequences in North America and the Pacific Islands," Zhang pointed out, emphasizing that countries' capacity to address climate change differs significantly, rooted in the substantial development gap.
"Hence, the most fundamental approach to prevent the transmission of climate change into security risks is by prioritizing development. Assisting developing countries in bridging this gap, enhancing climate resilience, and strengthening coping capabilities becomes essential," he said.
In that regard, the Security Council should "avoid being merely a forum for discussion and pursuing 'political correctness.' Instead, it should adopt a pragmatic approach, aligning with its mandate, and genuinely undertake practical measures to assist developing countries in addressing security risks," he said.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's fundamental consensus "clearly assigns historical responsibility for global climate change to developed countries, emphasizing their obligation to lead in significant emissions reduction, achieving net zero or even negative carbon emissions at an earlier stage", he said.
"Unfortunately, in the past year, certain developed countries have witnessed a regression in their energy policies, resulting in increased fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions," he said.
It raises the question of whether the "negative reversal" in meeting emission-reduction commitments, including unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, "constitutes a threat to international peace and security, considering the potential security implications of climate change", Zhang asked.
In 2017, the US announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration, making it the only nation among the nearly 200 signatories to divert from its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to NPR.
The envoy said that insufficient funding is another primary bottleneck in global climate governance, urging the developed countries to address their "outstanding climate financing obligations".
Zhang also cautioned about the developed countries' green protectionism. "Under the pretext of energy transformation, some countries enact unfair legislation, provide hefty subsidies to their industries, and impose trade barriers on green sectors in other countries," said Zhang.
"This violates WTO rules, disrupt the global green industrial and supply chains, undermine sustainable development goals and contradict international efforts to combat climate change," he said.
"The Security Council must oppose these practices and address the climate and security risks they pose," Zhang said, adding that illegal unilateral sanctions further "restrict development and stability for affected countries."
"The council should prioritize the voices of impacted people, combat green protectionism and sanctions, and uphold fairness and justice," said Zhang.
Zhang's call resonated with former Colombian president and Nobel Prize laureate Juan Manuel Santos, who also urged the Security Council on Tuesday to take further action in addressing the challenge of climate insecurity.
"We are at a moment in history where the world is at risk of dividing into blocs which compete for power and supremacy over each other, rather than cooperating to address the unprecedented challenges and existential threats that we all face," he said.
He urged countries to seek common ground through constructive dialogue and cooperation, emphasizing that there is only one way forward: "Unite, cooperate, or we will all perish."