The U.N. Security Council put climate change on its agenda for the first time and will hold a high-level meeting this month to discuss potential threats to international security from global warming.
"The traditional triggers for conflict which exist out there are likely to be exacerbated by the effect of climate change," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, the council president, said Wednesday.
The council will look at the impact of climate change on water, agricultural production, the potential for famine and crop surpluses, he said. Rising temperatures, for example, will increase water levels and can swallow up island nations our force massive relocation of people living in low-lying areas, he said.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett will chair the April 17 meeting and has invited the 14 other council nations to be represented at ministerial level, Jones Parry said. No statement or resolution is expected from the meeting, the council's first on the subject,
"With Great Britain in the presidency of the Security Council, the mid-April, minister-level meeting of the Security Council on climate change will raise the level of international attention and include the idea that global warming presents threats to international security," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk, "with a view to action that could be taken by the United Nations to control human-created greenhouse gasses in the future."
Last month, an international panel of scientists presented the United Nations with a sweeping, detailed plan to combat climate change, warning that failure would produce a turbulent 21st century of weather extremes, spreading drought and disease, expanding oceans and displaced coastal populations.
Diplomats are meeting with scientists this week in Brussels to endorse the study, which will guide policymakers for decades to come.
The report was issued just three weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative U.N. network of 2,000 scientists, reported that global warming is being caused largely by the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, mostly from man's burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.
Jones Parry said he expects a summit on climate change next year, likely in September 2008.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has not committed to a summit, but he has said he would discuss how best to confront the climate change problem with world leaders at a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized countries in June.