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Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Zhang Jun On the Security Council Draft Resolution on Climate and Security

2021-12-13 19:16

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation has just abstained from voting on the draft resolution on climate and security tabled by Ireland and Niger. I would like to explain China's voting position as follows. 

First, China has always attached great importance to tackling climate change, has always actively participated in relevant international cooperation, and played a responsible and constructive role. We have made important contributions to the conclusion, entry into force and follow-up implementation of the Paris Agreement. At a time when the Paris Agreement encountered serious setbacks, China did not change its mind and unswervingly implemented the agreement. China has also taken practical measures within the framework of South-South cooperation to do its very best to help other countries cope with the challenges of climate change. On the issue of climate change, China will do its utmost to fulfill all the commitments it has made. China has always taken a positive attitude towards anything that is conducive to global environmental governance and beneficial to the developing countries. 

Second, climate change is a byproduct of mankind's unsustainable pattern of  development since the Industrial Revolution. Only in the process of green transformation and sustainable development can this problem be fundamentally addressed. Climate change has the potential to impact peace and security. But the nexus between climate and security is very complex. It is relatively clear that compared with the micro-concept of climate change, environmental degradation, drought and floods, food shortages, and unfair distribution of resources are more realistic and immediate factors that may lead to tensions and conflicts. The transmission mechanism from climate change to security risks is far from clear. The analysis of  climate-driven security risks must be  specific context-based before it is possible to draw a conclusion of any practical significance. We will not shy away from  a serious discussion of this issue. At the same time, we should avoid pan-securitization of climate issues. To arbitrarily consider  climate change  as the only  security challenge for mankind is not a scientific attitude. And it will not be benefitical  for international cooperation  on climate change or for effective conflict resolution. On the contrary, it may actually distract  attention to the core issues and have a negative impact. 

Third, the best way to avert  the worst impact of climate change is to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions until net zero is achieved. In this regard, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is an unshakable cornerstone. No matter which platform and from which angle the climate issue is discussed and dealt with, it cannot deviate from this basic principle. Developing countries, especially African countries and small island countries, are faced with special difficulties and situations brought about by climate change. Developed countries have the responsibility to help them strengthen capacity building and enhanced economic and social resilience. The draft resolution did not address any of these important issues. Obviously, the discussion on this fundamental dimension has not been pursued, and this is not fair. We feel concerned that if  this path continues, developed countries will have new excuses for them not to take up their historical responsibilities and not honoring their commitments. In addition, the African Union Peace and Security Council adopted a communique on 9 March 2021, setting out specific propositions or common expectations of African countries on climate and security issues, which, unfortunately,  have not been fully reflected in the draft resolution. 

Fourth, the value of the Council's actions on the climate issue does not depend on how big or small of a step we take and how  we talk about it, but on the practical significance. What we need is not more written reports, but efforts to provide real help to regions and countries in conflict. At present, what developing countries are most concerned about, as Secretary-General Guterres has repeatedly stressed, is that developed countries should earnestly implement their commitments in the areas of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building. What the Security Council should do is not a political show. If some countries are really paying good attention to climate change, then they should support the Council to use its unique authority to establish a monitoring mechanism and help the developed countries fulfill their obligations and ensure that their commitments are honored. If the Secretary-General is to be asked to take actions, then he should  appoint a new Special Envoy to oversee climate finance and promote technology transfer. Commitments should not be only words. This is the most pressing, most important issue right now. 

It is not true that the Security Council is avoiding its responsibility on climate change. The fact of the matter is the Security Council has already dealt with climate issues under a number of country-specific issues on the Council’s agenda. We advocate that the Council continue on this path and deal with climate issues from the perspective of peace and security in specific situations. On the basis of accurately grasping the mechanism of climate-driven security risks, we can study targeted responses. Climate change has had a serious impact on the Sahel region and countries in the region are looking for practical help from the international community. China, Russia and India have jointly submitted a draft resolution focusing on security issues in the Sahel region, including climate change challenges, the aim of which is to effectively respond to the specific concerns of the countries in the Sahel region. We hope that members of the Council will constructively participate in the consultation of this draft resolution.  Just like the response to other global challenges, the handling of climate issues needs more cooperation, but not confrontation. 

I thank you, Mr. President.

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