Micheál Martin has rejected any suggestion that an Irish bid for UN agreement on the link between climate change and conflict is doomed to fail.
The Taoiseach on Thursday warned the UN Security Council that climate change “is exacerbating conflict globally”.
He presided over a debate on climate and security at the UN headquarters in New York, the first time an Irish taoiseach has chaired such a meeting.
The Irish delegation is to put forward a resolution in the coming days, calling for UN agreement on the link between climate change and conflict.
In his speech, Mr Martin called on leaders to accept the link between the climate crisis and conflicts taking place across the globe.
In July last year, efforts by Germany at the Security Council to have a similar resolution passed, to establish a system to monitor climate change-related conflicts, were vetoed by the Trump administration.
Other permanent members of the council such as Russia and China, who hold veto power, are said to be hesitant about drawing a link between climate and conflict.
Mr Martin, speaking to reporters, denied the suggestion that Ireland’s resolution would inevitably be rejected.
He said that Ireland will “engage” with all members of the UN Security Council.
He said the aim was to “try to persuade”.
“Views are never fixed forever and our challenge now is to persuade and engage with all members in respect of these issues,” Mr Martin said.
We must move past theoretical debates and respond to the reality that #climatechange is exacerbating conflict globally.
This Council can and must do more. It has the mandate and it has the tools.
A failure to use them is an abdication of our responsibility. #SecurityCouncil pic.twitter.com/lHVU53J746
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) September 23, 2021
On Thursday, Mr Martin told members of the Security Council: “The mandate of this council is to consider threats to international peace and security.
“We must move past theoretical debates and respond to the reality that climate change is exacerbating conflict globally.
“This council can and must do more. It has the mandate and it has the tools.”
Mr Martin said 80 per cent of UN peacekeepers are deployed in countries that are the most exposed to climate change.
He said: “From the Sahel to Iraq, this council has recognised that climate change is one of the factors driving conflict and fragility.
“Around Lake Chad, the combination of conflict and the impact of climate change has led to violence between communities.
“In the Horn of Africa, repeated droughts are undermining coping capacities among communities and disrupting livelihoods.
“Armed groups have been able to exploit these precarious conditions for recruitment purposes. The need for action is clear.
.@MichealMartinTD addressed the #SecurityCouncil this morning to discuss how climate change is affecting peace and security.🕊️
The Council can & must do more on #ClimateAndSecurity – it has the mandate, and it has the tools. 🇺🇳 pic.twitter.com/XqgeAz9fce
— Ireland at UN (@irishmissionun) September 23, 2021
“The link between climate and instability has been recognised by the African Union, the European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum.
“Sea level rise, displacement and competition over resources are contributing to tensions.
“This morning’s briefings gave us a clear message.
“If the Security Council is to meet its responsibility to maintain international peace and security, it must have the information and tools to analyse and address climate-related security risks.”
The Irish delegation is to put forward a resolution in the coming days, calling for agreement on the link between climate change and conflict.
“I ask today that all members of the council engage constructively on this resolution,” Mr Martin said.
Mr Martin said: “I know there are differing perspectives around this table.
“But I also believe the time has come for this council to work together to identify how we can most appropriately integrate climate-related security risks into the work we do to prevent conflict and to build peace.”