26 january 2019

[]4C Note: We received the url for the Tagesschau article below via an Email from the Climate Action Network. Translation is a 4C reworking of a Google English version into idiomatic English

German Foreign Minister Maas Warns UN Security Council About Dangers Of Climate Change

In his first speech to the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Maas warned of the dangers of climate change for world peace. He called for consideration of the role of global warming in all conflicts.

By Kai Clement, ARD Studio New York, Tagesschau, January 26 2019

It was a premiere for German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Sitting in the front row at the round table of the most powerful UN body, the Security Council., where at the beginning of the year Germany had taken over one of the non-permanent seats, he spoke about Climate change as a threat to security: The topic is very important to Germany, the minister said.

Maas showed photos of Europe taken by astronaut Alexander Gerst from space last year. "What is otherwise a green continent at this time of the year resembles a yellow-brown steppe," he said. Bad, but still harmless, compared to the consequences of climate change in other parts of the world.

"In the Sahel, conflicts are increasing because water and land are becoming increasingly scarce for agriculture," Maas said. "With the shrinking of Lake Chad, the livelihoods of entire population groups are disappearing - a perfect breeding ground for extremism and terrorism." And that's why the issue in the Council, which deals with security, is exactly right.

Opposition and resistance

Some members oppose Maas. Since 2007, the Security Council has sporadically dealt with the topic of climate change and its consequences for international security. There is constant resistance from its own ranks - for example, from Russia's representative Vasily Nebensja. "We find it excessive and counterproductive to negotiate climate change in the Security Council," he says, referring to Maas attack. "This undermines the system of division of labor at the United Nations."

Of course, US President Donald Trump is also skeptical about climate change studies - and his UN representative sits at the table as a permanent member of the Security Council.

Maas nevertheless advocates examining the role of climate change in all conflicts. The United Nations should provide accurate data and clear recommendations for action.

If water and land for agriculture were becoming increasingly scarce, that would be a perfect breeding ground for extremism and terrorism, Maas argued in the Security Council.

Pavel Kabat, Chief Scientist of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has listed some of the supporting data: "The last time the Earth experienced such a high carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere as today is three to five million years ago, two to three degrees warmer, and the sea level was ten to twenty meters higher than it is today ".

Kabat also refers to the recent risk analysis of the World Economic Forum in Davos: Extreme weather phenomena, natural disasters, climate change and water crises are the top 4 of existential global threats.

Germany will continue to press this issue, says Maas. For this purpose, a so-called affinity group [Freundesgruppe] on climate and security was founded at the United Nations. In it are, inter alia, small sinking island states threatened with destruction. France and Great Britain are also present. But not Russia. And not the US either.

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