Small islands win U.N. vote on climate change security

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Small Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels won a symbolic victory at the United Nations on Wednesday with the passage of a resolution recognizing climate change as a possible threat to security.

The non-binding resolution, passed by consensus by the General Assembly, may help put climate change on the agenda of the more powerful U.N. Security Council, which deals with threats to international peace and security.

General Assembly resolutions are largely symbolic but can carry moral weight. Several representatives said this one was important as the first to explicitly link climate change to security -- a principle previously resisted by powerful Security Council members including Russia and China, who questioned whether the issue belonged in the Security Council.

“We are of the firm view that the adverse impacts of climate change have very real implications for international peace and security,” Nauru Ambassador Marlene Moses told the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States which introduced the resolution.

Moses said small islands were already experiencing the “dire and immediate impacts” of climate change, including the inundation of coastal areas, the submergence of islands, loss of freshwater supplies, flooding, drought, damaged crops and increased disease.

The resolution said the 192-member General Assembly was “deeply concerned that the adverse impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, could have possible security implications.”

It invited all relevant U.N. bodies to intensify efforts to address climate change and asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report on possible security implications.

Agreed after months of bargaining, the resolution was passed as climate change negotiators from 181 governments meet in Bonn, Germany for talks on a new U.N. climate treaty due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

Governments face six months of tough negotiations on a draft text they have accepted as a starting point for talks on a treaty to curb the use of fossil fuels and widen the fight against climate change beyond the existing Kyoto Protocol.

Edited by Alan Elsner