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US urges greater ambition as UNSC tackles climate

  • Published at 10:49 pm September 23rd, 2021
General view of the UNSC meeting during the 76th Session of the UNGA
General view of the UNSC meeting during the 76th Session of the UNGA, in New York City on September 23, 2021 Reuters

‘All our nations must take immediate, bold actions,’ Blinken said

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday urged all countries to raise climate ambitions as the UN Security Council took up the environmental crisis, warning that it is aggravating conflicts.

Blinken pointed to record rains in New York that contributed to dozens of deaths and said that climate has aggravated conflicts in countries such as Syria, Mali, Yemen, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.

"The climate crisis isn't coming. It's already here and clear patterns are emerging and its impact, the consequences, are falling disproportionately on vulnerable and low-income populations," Blinken said.

"All our nations must take immediate, bold actions," Blinken said, weeks ahead of high-stakes UN climate talks in Glasgow.

In a veiled reference to China, the only emitter larger than the United States, Blinken highlighted President Joe Biden's pledge before the United Nations on Tuesday to double financial support for the hardest-hit countries.

The Security Council meeting called by current president Ireland follows a first top-level session on climate led by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February.

Russia has been skeptical, saying that climate does not fit the agenda of the Security Council.

Blinken said that taking up climate sends a "clear message to the international community of the serious implications that climate change has for our collective security."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the session that a recent report by UN scientists that showed dangerously intensifying levels of climate change was "a code red for humanity."

He said that at least 30 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters last year and that "no region is immune."

Guterres also urged nations to revamp their food priorities, saying the world needed food systems that safeguard the environment. 

'Serious progress'

Talks between Middle East regional rivals Tehran and Riyadh have led to "serious progress" on the issue of Gulf security, an Iranian foreign ministry official said.

"Serious progress has been made on the subject of security in the Gulf," state news agency IRNA on Thursday quoted ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying.

Shia-majority Iran and Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia, on opposing sides in multiple regional conflicts, have been engaged in talks since April with the aim of improving relations, for the first time since cutting ties in 2016.

The discussions were launched under Iran's former moderate president Hassan Rouhani and have continued since his ultraconservative successor, Ebrahim Raisi, took office in August.

Speaking to journalists on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Khatibzadeh said the talks were "good" and called for countries to settle regional issues between themselves, without foreign interference. 

In Yemen, Iran supports Shia rebels who still control most of the north, including the capital Sanaa, despite more than six years of Saudi-led military efforts to oust them.

Tehran has also been the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Sunni rebels since civil war broke out in 2011.

In Lebanon, Iran-backed Shia group Hezbollah plays a pivotal role in political life, while its fighters have been heavily involved in neighbouring Syria in support of Assad's government.

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