This paper considers what actions the United Nations Security Council has taken with regard to climate change thus far, and what actions the Security Council could legally take going forward. To this point, the U.N. Security Council (“UNSC” or “Council”) has played a very minimal role in addressing climate change. The UNSC has held two debates on the relationship between climate change and security, first in 2007 and then in 2011, the latter producing a formal Presidential Statement on the topic.
The U.N. Charter and the literature suggest that the UNSC could theoretically take two possible actions related to climate change: (1) handle discrete, traditional conflicts partially or wholly caused by climate change; (2) find that climate change represents a “threat to international peace and security”, placing the topic within the mandate of the Council, and employ its Chapter VI and VII powers to mitigate or adapt to climate change. This memorandum focuses primarily on the second, more controversial option, which could include the imposition of economic sanctions, the creation of a subsidiary climate change committee, and even the use of force.
Environmental Law | Law
Climate Change and International Peace and Security: Possible Roles for the U.N. Security Council in Addressing Climate Change,
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, July 2015
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/sabin_climate_change/126