At a joint event on the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York, Germany and France raised awareness about the correlation between climate change and security risks. The report A New Climate for Peace, commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministers, was presented at this high-level event. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that not only wars, but also increasingly environmental damage is forcing people to flee their homes.
Franco‑German signals for climate protection
This was the second joint signal for climate protection sent by Germany and France within a short space of time. On 21 September, Foreign Ministers Steinmeier and Fabius travelled together to Bangladesh, a country that is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A fifth of the country’s densely populated territory risks going under water if the sea level continues to rise owing to melting polar ice caps. Germany is supporting France’s efforts to reach a binding climate agreement, which is the intended result of the world climate conference in Paris in December 2015.
Protecting fragile states against the effects of climate change
The event on the fringes of the UN General Assembly was attended by an exceptionally large number of high-level officials. Prime ministers, deputy prime ministers and around 20 foreign and environment ministers, as well as the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete were present at the packed event at Deutsches Haus in Manhattan. The report A New Climate for Peace, commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministers a few months ago, was discussed. The primary focus of the report is resilience, i.e. how fragile states in particular can prepare themselves for the security threats arising from climate change. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said the following: “These challenges go far beyond the countries that are especially hard hit by climate change. This is a joint challenge.”
Commitment to a binding global climate agreement
In his statement, Foreign Minister Fabius warned against prioritising short-term over long-term security risks. Climate change, he added, is not just a question of environmental matters, but is also a security issue that involves immense economic and social costs. He said that it is therefore imperative for an agreement to be reached in Paris that limits the rise in global temperatures. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Mahmood Ali expressed a similar view. He said his country was already experiencing unusual rainfalls and that millions of people are directly threatened by global warming.
In a joint statement with the French Foreign Minister Fabius following the event, Steinmeier stressed that climate change must not be overlooked in the current debate about the causes of flight and displacement. He said that people were losing their homes not only because of war and civil war, but also increasingly as a result of environmental damage such as desertification and flooding. It is important therefore, he continued, to create awareness for this issue prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris. As he pointed out: “We must achieve our overriding joint aim, which is a binding global agreement on limiting global warming to no more than two degrees”.