IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

UNSC and Climate change                                                                                     


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Context: India and Russia have blocked a proposal that would have allowed the UN Security Council to deliberate on climate-related issues.

  • The draft resolution, piloted by Ireland and Niger, sought to create a formal space in the Security Council for discussions on climate change and its implications on international security.



  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC specialised agency, for discussing all matters related to climate change.
  • The parties to the UNFCCC — over 190 countries — meet several times every year to work on a global approach to combat climate change.
  • This process that has given rise to the Paris Agreement, and its predecessor the Kyoto Protocol, the international instrument that is designed to respond to the climate change crisis.


  • The Security Council, exists primarily to prevent conflicts and maintain global peace.
  • For the last few years, a few European countries, led by Germany, have been pushing for a role for Security Council in climate change discussions as well, arguing that climate change had an international security dimension.
  • Climate change-induced food or water shortage, loss of habitat or livelihood, or migration can exacerbate existing conflicts or even create new ones.
  • This can have implications for the UN field missions that are deployed across the world in peacekeeping efforts.

The Proposal

  • It called for UN Secretary General to submit a report on security aspects of climate change in the next two years.
  • It also asked the Secretary General to appoint a special envoy for climate security.
  • Further, it asked UN field missions to regularly report on climate change assessments in their areas of operation and take the help of climate experts in carrying out their routine functions.

UNSC and climate change

  • Although it is not the forum to discuss climate change, the Security Council and its secretariat has hosted a few debates and informal discussions on the subject in the past.
  • Russia and China, two permanent members with veto powers, have always been opposed to the move to bring climate change on the Security Council agenda.
  • India, which started a two-year term in January, joined ranks with Russia and China.

Arguments for opposing

  • The opposing countries have been arguing that the UNFCCC must remain the appropriate forum for addressing all climate change-related issues, and claim the Security Council does not have the expertise to do so.
  • Unlike UNFCCC, where decisions are taken by consensus of all the 190-plus countries, the UNSC would enable climate change decision-making by a handful of developed countries.