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Address to the UN Security Council – climate security and implications of rising temperatures

December 16, 2017

In his role as Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Mark was asked to attend the United Nations in New York on behalf of the UK and which he addressed the UN Security Council Arria on climate security. You can find his remarks below or you can watch his contributions on the UN website here (Mark begins speaking at 23 minutes and 56 seconds).

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“Thank you Mr. President.

And thank you to our briefers, H.E. Halbe Zijlstra, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Ms. Caitlin Werrel.

Climate change presents an urgent threat to us all and the planet we inhabit. I am grateful to address the Council on this crucial topic. A topic that is so important to the UK – the first Security Council debate on the relationship between climate and security was convened by the United Kingdom ten years ago.

Since then, climate-related security threats have become more pressing.

Understandably a core focus of this Council is conflict resolution and prevention, however it is striking that in 2016, three times as many people were displaced by natural disasters as by conflict.

This year we have also seen many extreme weather events and climate-related disasters – droughts in Somalia, hurricanes in the Caribbean, flooding in India and Bangladesh.

As the 13th Sustainable Development Goal makes clear, climate change has a direct impact on development. Goal 16 makes clear that development and peace are inexplicitly linked.

Therefore it is irrefutable that climate change needs to be considered by this Council to promote peace, security and development for all.

Without concerted global action to limit and manage the impact of climate change, we could reverse the huge gains in global poverty reduction which we have achieved over the last three decades.

Part of this action must be a quick response to climate related disasters to minimise impact and preserve life. The UK works closely with countries in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa to build resilience. We are providing an additional $71 million funding to extend this work.

We have provided $40 million to set up the London based Centre for Global Disaster Protection, in partnership with the World Bank, to ensure an earlier and more rapid response to disasters.

This will not only save lives, but also allow countries to recover more quickly, reducing the long-run impacts on poverty alleviation and economic growth.

However we recognise that prevention is always better than the cure. If we are to avoid the worst impacts on the most vulnerable, the answer to this is not to react to climate change after the fact but invest now to manage the risk. Helping vulnerable countries to build their resilience to natural disasters and adapt to the impacts of climate change is crucial.

It is for this reason that we have consistently encouraged robust international action on climate security, including by launching the G7’s work on climate and fragility in 2013. As my Prime Minister stated this in Paris week, “we stand firmly with those who find themselves on the frontline of rising sea levels and extreme weather”.

Together with our partners, we have committed to jointly mobilise $100bn per year in climate finance to developing countries from public and private sources.

This was instrumental in securing the landmark Paris Agreement, which is crucial for ensuring global economic security and sustainable development.

As part of this commitment, we pledged to provide at least $7.5 billion of International Climate Finance between 2016 and 2020. We are aiming to support mitigation and adaptation equally. This places us amongst the world’s leading providers of climate finance.

We must look at actions to promote climate security in a holistic way. We must recognise that causes and responses are interlinked. Individually sensible actions can miss opportunities or have unintended consequences. We need coherent planning that considers opportunities and risks across sectors and over time.

Doing so is vital to build sustainable peace in conflict areas, to promote sustainable development and to build livelihoods that are resilient to the impacts of climate change. And ultimately create a future that is more secure and more prosperous for us all.”