Monday, September 27th 2010, 5:10 PM EDT
Foreign Secretary William Hague has today delivered a speech titled 'The Diplomacy of Climate Change' to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York - here is the speech in full.
I am delighted to be here at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the modern networked world, diplomacy is no longer the sole preserve of diplomats. Instead, we all have a stake in global affairs. That is why the work of renowned bodies such as this is more valuable than ever.
Today I want to talk about why I believe we, as foreign policy practitioners, need to up our game in building a credible and effective response to climate change. Climate change is perhaps the twenty-first century’s biggest foreign policy challenge along with such challenges as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. A world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the UN will not be met. It is a world in which competition and conflict will win over collaboration.
We are at a crucial point in the global debate on climate change. Many are questioning, in the wake of Copenhagen, whether we should continue to seek a response to climate change through the UN and whether we can ever hope to deal with this enormous challenge.
I will first argue that an effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity. Second, our response should be to strive for a binding global deal, whatever the setbacks. And third, I will set out why effective deployment of foreign policy assets is crucial to mobilising the political will needed if we are to shape an effective response.
Interconnected challenges in a networked world
Ban Ki-moon is right to have made climate change his top priority. Two weeks ago I talked of Britain’s values in a networked world. I said then that a successful response to climate change must be a central objective of British foreign policy. I said this not only because I believe action against climate change is in line with a values-based foreign policy, but because it underpins our prosperity and security.
You cannot have food, water, or energy security without climate security. They are interconnected and inseparable. They form four resource pillars on which global security, prosperity and equity stand. Each depends on the others. Plentiful, affordable food requires reliable and affordable access to water and energy. Increasing dependence on coal, oil, and gas threatens climate security, increasing the severity of floods and droughts, damaging food production, exacerbating the loss of biodiversity and, in countries that rely on hydropower, undermining energy security through the impact on water availability. As the world becomes more networked, the impacts of climate change in one country or region will affect the prosperity and security of others around the world.
No-one can have failed to be appalled by the devastating floods in Pakistan. They overwhelmed the capacity of government to respond, and opened political space for extremists. While Pakistan has borne the brunt of the human impact, China too has been hit on a vast scale by a seemingly endless sequence of droughts, floods and deadly mudslides. The Russian drought last month damaged the wheat harvest, leading to an export ban. World prices surged, hitting the poorest hardest and sparking riots over bread prices in Mozambique.
While no one weather event can ever be linked with certainty to climate change, the broad patterns of abnormality seen this year are consistent with climate change models. They provide a vivid illustration of the events we will be encountering increasingly in the future.
The clock is ticking. The time to act is now.
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