On Friday 25 February, NUPI’s Climate-related Peace and Security Risks team hosted a talk by Cesare Scartozzi, PhD candidate at the University of Tokyo, on climates security debates and trends in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Based on his forthcoming article (which will soon be available as online first in International Studies Perspectives) Scartozzi presented the policy debate and processes relating to climate security in the UNSC.

In his talk, Scartozzi drew attention to the general agreement within the council that climate change and security could be within its purview and how all member states agree that climate change may exaggerate security risks. There has been an increase of debates on climate and security, especially since 2017, and several resolutions – including peacekeeping mandates – now include references to climate and security.

Nevertheless, Scartozzi’s research shows that member states relate to the debate on climate and security in very different ways, and do not have a shared understanding of what climate security means, or what the UNSC should be doing on the topic.  Through discourse analysis of the main open debates in the UNSC relating to climate and security, Scartozzi found that there are three main approaches to climate and security as a UNSC topic among member states.

The first approach, led by the United Kingdom, the United States and France, rely heavily on securitization and view climate change as an existential threat. A second group, in which there is some overlap with the first group, relies on language of riskification and highlights the risks to security associated with climate change. A third group, led by China and Russia, will only discuss climate change and security on a case-to-case basis, opposing any general level discussion in the UNSC.

Despite the disagreements, Scartozzi highlighted that his research shows that ‘climate change alters the security landscape and thus affects Security Council operations’.

Scartozzi is a PhD candidate at the School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo, working on climate and security. His PhD dissertation analysis policy debates and programming in international organizations, including policy debates in the UNSC which was the focus of the talk. In addition to this, Scartozzi also do research on climate-sensitive programming in UN peace operations and the green climate fund.