Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Climate Finance for Sustaining Peace and Security

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 9, 2022


Thank you very much. Thank you, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber and thank you to the UAE, for your leadership in convening today’s discussion on climate finance for peace and security. This is an extraordinarily relevant and important discussion for us to have today. And I want to thank all of our main briefers for their incisive and sobering remarks, but I particularly want to recognize my former boss, Special Envoy Kerry, who is with us here today.

The global climate crisis is the greatest existential threat facing our world today. Complacency is no longer an option. The crisis is already here. And let me be clear: climate change is not only an environmental threat. It is also a national security threat and a health security threat. Climate change exacerbates existing conflicts and increases the chances of new ones. It is a major driver of migration and displacement. And the reverse is true, also: the environment is yet another victim of war. Attacks can lead to water, soil and land contamination, or release pollutants into the air. This can lead to a vicious cycle of environmental damage caused by war and war exacerbated by environmental damage, and this is a cycle that we must break.

Of course, as Special Envoy Kerry stated, we cannot talk about the environment and security without reflecting on the consequences of Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war of choice against the people of Ukraine. The damage to the environment and subsequent cost of cleanup could be enormous. Russia’s brazen attack on – and in the vicinity of – Ukraine’s nuclear power plants threaten the safety and the security of all. Last week the world spoke: 141 nations voted to condemn Russia’s unconscionable actions. Russia is isolated and alone. Relevant to this Arria’s subject, Russia’s actions against Ukraine, and the actions that President Biden and our allies are taking to stand up to Russia’s war, are resulting in the world moving away from Russia as a fossil-fuel exporter.

By investing in clean energy research and development, we can move toward greener technologies, which will help us fight the climate crisis and grow economies around the world. Russia’s desecration of the environment is in line with its vote last December when Russia blocked the adoption of a climate security resolution by the Security Council. The resolution put forward was modest – but it was meaningful. It provided the Council with practical, actionable steps to equip UN Member States and numerous UN bodies, including peacekeeping missions, with tools to better address the security implications of our changing climate. Fortunately, the clear majority of UN Member States endorse Security Council action on this issue. More than 113 countries co-sponsored December’s climate resolution. So, while Russia may have blocked this resolution, our global movement cannot, and will not, be stopped.

The Security Council can and should complement, support, and reinforce our collective work under the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to fight this security threat. Only the Security Council can ensure that the security impacts of climate change are integrated into the critical work of conflict prevention and mitigation, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, disaster reduction, and humanitarian response. That’s our charge; especially when it comes to this crisis that threatens all of us. We must honor those responsibilities.

Today, let us join together and commit to transforming the climate crisis into an opportunity – one which will build a sustainable, green future for the planet and for generations to come.

Thank you, Mr. President.