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The Global Response to Climate Change

Security and Climate Change
Shirley Scott
Roberta Andrade

The United Nations Security Council has held two debates on climate change. The first, on 17 April 2007, was an open debate about the relationship between energy, climate, and security under the chairmanship of the United Kingdom. The second debate was held in July 2011 under German leadership. Both debates revealed contrasting opinions as to whether climate change should be regarded as a security threat, and the Council did not pass a resolution on either occasion. Nevertheless, a statement issued by the President of the Security Council in 2011 suggests that the Council may be edging closer to assuming a lead role in the global response to climate change. This possibility raises several questions, which will be considered in turn. First, it must be determined whether climate change fits within the appropriate scope of subject matter of concern to the Council. Second, the type of action the Council might take if it were to proceed to a decision must be considered. Third, it must be assessed whether a more decisive role for the Council in climate change governance would likely be effective in reducing the international security threat posed by global warming.