The United Nations Security Council, the most powerful body within the international diplomatic assembly, will discuss climate change tomorrow. In 2007, when the council debated climate policy for the first time, it did so over the objections of many nations, who believed that the issue should be handled by the general assembly and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Because of the frustrating record of attempts in Copenhagen and Cancun to build a successor to the Kyoto Protocol and the rising impacts of global warming pollution around the world, this time the most vulnerable nations are supporting the Security Council’s involvement. In an impassioned New York Times op-ed, Marcus Stephen, the president of the small island nation of Nauru, called for strong action by the council:
First, the Security Council should join the General Assembly in recognizing climate change as a threat to international peace and security. It is a threat as great as nuclear proliferation or global terrorism. Second, a special representative on climate and security should be appointed. Third, we must assess whether the United Nations system is itself capable of responding to a crisis of this magnitude.
Nauru’s economy is in tatters, as the tiny island, smaller than Manhattan, was denuded for phosphate mining. The planet, he warns, is headed towards a future of resource collapse like his own nation’s, “with the relentless burning of coal and oil, which is altering the planet’s climate, melting ice caps, making oceans more acidic and edging us ever closer to a day when no one will be able to take clean water, fertile soil or abundant food for granted.”