Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Huffington Post wants former UN Climate Chief Christina Figueres to be the new UN Secretary General, on the grounds that only she understands the climate “emergency”. But what kind of political values would Figueres bring to the top UN job?
New UN S-G Must Realize That Climate Change Threatens Our World
The task facing the next United Nations Secretary-General will not be an easy one. The world seems to be teetering on the edge of multiple, interconnected crises including conflict in Syria, tensions around Ukraine, and disputes over water and land resource issues. All of this at a time when we are seeing the biggest movement of people since World War II.
In the public debates the candidates for the next UN Secretary-General have participated in, they’ve shown that they can list what will be in their in-tray, but few have acknowledged the common thread running through many of these crises and challenges: the impact of a changing climate. Any analysis that fails to acknowledge this as one of the key drivers to current and future global instability is a flawed one.
Unlike her fellow candidates, Christiana Figueres — a Costa Rican diplomat and former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — not only recognises that climate change is increasingly one of the biggest threats that we face, she also understands that the security implications need to be addressed along with all the other threats to global stability and prosperity, rather than in isolation. She knows that without such an approach climate change promises to make many of our most complex crises — from migration to conflict, food shortages to terrorism — much harder to solve.
The 21st century is proving extremely challenging, with many threats to our global prosperity and well-being. Under the new Secretary-General, the UN will have to adapt to meet these challenges and the candidate the members of the Security Council choose to recommend to the General Assembly must be capable of delivering; Christiana Figueres is that candidate.
Why am I concerned about Figueres’ political values? The reason is Figueres seems to hold Democracy in contempt, at least with regard to the implementation of climate policy. As previously noted on WUWT, Figueres is on record as suggesting that authoritarian China is “getting climate policy right” – because the dictators who run China do not face any “hurdles” to implementing their decrees.
Biggest Emitter China Best on Climate, Figueres Says
China, the top emitter of greenhouse gases, is also the country that’s “doing it right” when it comes to addressing global warming, the United Nations’ chief climate official said.
The nation has some of the toughest energy-efficiency standards for buildings and transportation and its support for photovoltaic technology helped reduce solar-panel costs by 80 percent since 2008, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York.
The country is facing growing public pressure from citizens to reduce air pollution, due in large part to burning coal. Its efforts to promote energy efficiency and renewable power stem from the realization that doing so will pay off in the long term, Figueres said.
“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”
China is also able to implement policies because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S., Figueres said.
For the HuffPost to support a candidate who in my opinion would likely think how many wind turbines a country builds is more important than whether they respect human rights and democratic procedure, must surely be seen as a sad reflection on Huffington Post’s own journalistic values.