domingo, 15 de novembro de 2015
Climate summit under terror’s shadow
Climate summit under terror’s shadow
The Paris attacks are reshaping the optics of the international climate change talks set to kick off there in two weeks.
By ANDREW RESTUCCIA 11/16/15, 1:48 AM CET Updated 11/16/15, 1:56 AM CET
Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris threaten to cast a shadow on the global climate summit that’s set to begin in that city two weeks from now — steering public attention away from the longer-term threat of a warming planet and rising seas toward the more immediate threat of ISIL terrorists.
But advocates of a climate pact say hopes for a consensus at the summit could gain momentum from the emerging international unity on combating the Islamic State. And the gathering provides a new platform for President Barack Obama and other leaders to drive home an argument that they have been making for years: that climate change itself is a threat to the world’s peace and security.
Still, pressing the terror-climate connection poses political risks at home, as was shown by the Republican derision that greeted Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ statement during Saturday night’s debate that climate change “is directly related to the growth in terrorism.”
A raft of studies backs up the argument that a changing climate can worsen the tensions that help fuel terrorism and wars, including Pentagon and CIA reports that found instability from changes in the climate can contribute to conditions that breed insurgencies. But conservative critics immediately ridiculed Sanders — with one columnist, Ben Shapiro, tweeting mockingly that “climate change causes terrorism like a fish causes a bicycle.”
Obama and dozens of other world leaders are still scheduled to travel to Paris for the beginning of the two-week-long talks that start Nov. 30, along with thousands of activists and observers. They’ll gather at a conference center in the north of the city, not far from the Stade du France, where suicide bombers detonated bombs outside a soccer match attended by French President François Hollande.
On Sunday, Obama and several of the same world leaders pledged at the G20 summit in Ankara, Turkey, to step up their pressure on ISIL and take new steps to cope with the flow of refugees from Syria. But climate advocates seemed unfazed by the possibility that environmental issues could get squeezed off the leaders’ priority list.
“The [climate] talks won’t gain as much attention in the media because it will be crowded out by other issues. But that’s not what’s most important,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former climate aide in the Clinton White House. “The resolve of world leaders is going to be redoubled to gain an agreement and show that they can deliver for populations around the world. The likelihood for a successful agreement has only increased because of these attacks.”
Former U.S. climate diplomat Nigel Purvis, who now leads the consulting firm Climate Advisers, agreed. “Nations will be more likely to work closely with France to produce a constructive outcome,” he said in an email.
While the substance of the negotiations themselves isn’t likely to be affected by the attacks in Paris, the attacks will draw more attention to the links between climate change and terrorism. Activists say Obama has an unprecedented opportunity to use his trip to Paris to talk about how drought, desertification, rising seas and other effects of climate change could destabilize countries and worsen conditions that lead to radicalism.
Conservatives, on the other hand, have mocked Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for talking about the national security threat posed by climate change.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blasted Obama’s comments during a recent television interview about the threat of climate change. “He said CLIMATE CHANGE is the most important thing, not all of the current disasters!” Trump tweeted in disbelief. Rival candidate Mike Huckabee scoffed at the notion earlier this year, saying that “a beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn.”
Kerry devoted an entire speech to the issue of climate change and national security just three days before the attacks in Paris, saying “because the world is so extraordinarily interconnected today — economically, technologically, militarily, in every imaginable way — instability anywhere can be a threat to stability everywhere.”
Following Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris that killed at least 132 people, some worry that touting the national security threat of climate change may strike the wrong chord.
“I understand that it has been, and I assume will continue to be part of the argument for a climate change deal, but in light of what just happened in Paris it is going to ring hollow for an awful lot of people. It may be correct, but it just seems out of touch right now,” said Jim Manley, a former adviser to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Indeed, focusing on the climate security argument could give Republicans an opening to argue that Democrats are soft on terrorism and have their priorities mixed up.
“People are afraid. And it is not of global warming,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist. “The Democrats need to start to speak to that or they will be politically dead.”