Climate change could have link with terrorism, UN chief Ban Ki-moon tells CBC

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon says the attacks in Paris can’t overshadow efforts to reach a climate change agreement at next week's summit. He also warns in an exclusive CBC interview of a possible link between climate change and terrorism.

Social disruption could lead to more 'terrorist fighters'

UN chief on climate change and terror

7 years ago
Duration 2:22
Ban Ki-moon says attacks in Paris can't overshadow need for climate change agreement.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon says the attacks in Paris can't overshadow efforts to reach a climate change agreement at next week's summit.

He also warns in an exclusive interview with CBC News of a possible link between climate change and terrorism.

​"When we do not address climate change properly it may also affect many people who are frustrated and who are impacted, then there is some possibility that these young people who [are] jobless and frustrated may join these foreign terrorist fighters," the UN chief said.

"There is a concern whether it may overshadow the climate change agreement and I think we have to move on this climate change agreement."

The secretary general praised the leadership of French President François Hollande, who travelled to Malta to hold a special session on climate change with Commonwealth leaders. Hollande was meeting with environmental groups Saturday, pushing for an ambitious global deal to reduce man-made emissions blamed for global warming.

"I highly commend the leadership of President Hollande, who has decided to carry on." said Ban.

Looking forward to working with Trudeau

Leaders and climate negotiators from 196 countries meeting at the UN talks from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 will try to hash out the broadest, most lasting deal to date to slow global warming.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at a news conference at the Commonwealths Heads of Government meeting, Friday Nov. 27, 2015 near Mgarr, Malta. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is among leaders attending the Paris talks, has been in Valetta, Malta for the Commonwealth meeting, where he pledged his government would spend $15.3 million over four years to improve the lives of young people in Africa.

On Friday, Canada announced it will contribute $2.65 billion to the fund over the next five years.

Ban said he is looking forward to working with Canada's new leader.

"I know there have been some differences between previous governments and the new government. I have been working closely with the previous government and I'm also looking forward to working even more closely with the new government led by Prime Minister Trudeau," he said.

"I expect that we can further strengthen our partnership in peace, stability and security."

Trudeau responded by saying climate change is a global problem.

"They remain connected issues in that the big issues of trade, economic growth or terrorism and security and climate have been woven in and out of all of our discussions," he said.

Trudeau added the Nov. 13 attacks that shocked France and killed 130 people have energized leaders converging for the climate talks.

"Leaders are massively expressing they are even more enthused and committed to attending the climate change conference in Paris because of the opportunity it offers to also stand in solidarity with Paris and with the people of France," he said.

Extra security

The climate talks opening on Monday are taking place under extra-high security after Islamic extremists killed 130 people Nov. 13 in the deadliest attacks in France in decades.

Pedestrians walk in front of posters for the forthcoming COP 21 World Climate Summit in Paris. (Reuters/Philippe Wojazer)

Later Saturday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is scheduled to symbolically hand over the "keys" to the climate conference to the UN climate change agency, which will oversee the two-week talks. Fabius and Hollande have travelled the world this year and used France's diplomatic weight to try to rally international support for a tough and binding deal.

The last global climate treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, required only rich countries to reduce emissions and the U.S., the world's biggest emitter, didn't take part.

The talks are happening with France in a state of emergency and thousands of troops and police fanned out to ensure security after the Paris attacks.

A big march by environmental activists was cancelled because of the security measures. Activists are still planning other small actions around France and other countries.


Margo McDiarmid is a freelance photographer and journalist based in Warsaw, Poland. She worked for CBC for more than 30 years.

With files from The Associated Press


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