SYDNEY – The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, warned of the growing threat to global peace and security posed by climate change during a visit to Fiji on Wednesday.
Guterres, who was addressing the Pacific Islands Forum summit, said climate change particularly affects the islands of the Pacific.
“Military strategists see clearly the possibility of climate impacts increasing tensions over resources and mass movements of people everywhere in the world,” Guterres said.
Pointing out that temperatures and natural disasters are increasingly extreme, the UN High Representative stressed that climate change would seriously affect food security through water salinization and crop loss, as well as public health systems in the most vulnerable countries.
In 2016, more than 24 million people in 118 countries and territories were displaced by natural disasters, three times more than the number displaced by conflict on the planet, according to the UN.
Guterres also highlighted the historical experience of the Pacific islands in adapting to various climate phenomena and called for greater cooperation by the international community with the region to address the effects of climate change.
“Your commitment to adaptation, your need to develop adaptation, requires stronger international support, as climate change is running faster than our efforts to address it. Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking,” Guterres said at the Forum.
“As you know all too well, the Pacific region is on the frontline of climate change. That means you are also our important allies in the fight against it,” Guterres added in his speech.
The UN chief is currently on a tour of the South Pacific to address the growing problems caused by climate change.
In his speech on Wednesday, as on other stops during his trip, he said that he wanted governments to “tax pollution, not people,” to “stop subsidizing fossil fuels” and to “stop building new coal plants by 2020. We need a green economy, not a grey economy.”