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UK Mission to the United Nations

New York

London 19:15, 02 Jan 2013
New York 14:15, 02 Jan 2013

Climate change

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses delegates at the COP16 Plenary

COP17 Begins in Durban

The 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held from 28 November-10 December in Durban, South Africa.  COP17 will bring together representatives of the world’s governments, international organisations and civil society to agree international action on climate change.

The United Kingdom remains committed to pursuing a globally legally-binding agreement on carbon emissions that limits global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.  The UK will also work at Durban towards implementation of the agreements reached at COP16 in Cancun.

On 24 November, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne delivered a speech to the Grantham Institute, outlining the UK’s views in advance of COP17.

Find out more about the UN Climate Summit in Durban, Key issues for the Summit and UK Action on Climate Change.

Recent Climate Change Action at the UN

Security Council debates the impact of climate change on international peace and security

On 20 July, on the initiative of the German Presidency, the United Nations Security Council held an open debate on the impact of climate change on international peace and security.  The Security Council agreed on a Presidential Statement which expresses concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could, in the long-run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security; and that the loss of territory in some States due to sea-level rise, particularly in small low-lying island States, could have possible security implications.  At the debate, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated “The facts are clear: climate change is real and accelerating in a dangerous manner,” declaring that it “not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security; it is a threat to international peace and security”.

UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant participated in the debate and voiced support for the Security Council addressing the issue, that the UK first brought to the Security Council in 2007, noting that as the Council is tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security, “It can, and indeed should, therefore, consider emerging threats. Conflict prevention is a key element in the Council’s work. The United Kingdom believes that it is through discussion and better awareness of new and cross-cutting security challenges, including the effects of climate change, that the Council can best fulfil its responsibility to prevent future conflict.”  While the UK had worked to achieve a more ambitious statement, the statement adopted and the debate itself represent progress on the agenda internationally.  

You can read a detailed summary of the debate on the UN website.  

Climate Change and Security: Visit of UK Climate and Energy Security Envoy

This month UKMIS hosted a visit from the United Kingdom’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti.  His visit featured meetings with UN interlocutors involved in peacekeeping, conflict prevention, environmental and humanitarian activities to discuss the security implications of a changing global climate and the UN’s role in a comprehensive response.  This visit came in advance of the 20 July debate in the UN Security Council on the security implications of climate change. Morisetti clarified the task at hand as “getting a better understanding of what climate change means, how it is going to affect countries and how we can work together to reduce the effects”.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti on the impact of Climate Change


Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge facing the world today. It is a global issue that demands a global response, and all countries need to be part of the solution. The UK is playing a leading role at an international level.

We are working through the European Union, the G8, the Commonwealth and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to find ways to reach global agreement on addressing this issue.

Our goal is to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to avoid dangerous climate change, as well as to adapt to the climate change we are already experiencing. Along with the EU, we believe global warming must be limited to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial times to avoid dangerous impacts.

To achieve this goal, we need to secure a global commitment to a realistic, durable and fair and legally-binding plan for beyond 2012, when the first set of targets under the Kyoto Protocol expires. We are supporting this with effective action in the UK under the Climate Change Act 2008 and in the EU (under the 2020 package).