Four Questions for Christiana Figueres

Jan Golinski/U.N.

Bio: Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change
Website: figueresonline.com

1. How much did religious leaders advocate against global warming at the United Nations climate talks this past winter in Durban, South Africa?
I have been very impressed over the past few years at how the faith community is getting more and more involved in climate issues; they are concerned about what humanity is doing to creation. In Durban we had, of course, Archbishop Tutu, who was there as the local leader of the faith community, but we also had probably the largest participation of the faith community we’ve ever had, from religions from around the world, trying to support the process.

2. So the U.S. is unusual in that the reality of climate change is sometimes contested on religious grounds here?
Yes, that is a unique situation.

3. How are military entities engaging with climate change?
It’s very interesting how the military has become acutely aware of the fact that climate represents, probably, the most difficult security issue that they are going to face over the next 20 years, just because of migration. We see areas that are going to be underwater, that are going to be in drought—there is going to be a massive migration such as we have never seen, which represents a severe security problem for what are currently stable states.

The U.S. military has already done quite a few studies about the implications of climate change on the security and the borders of the United States. And they, I think, are taking on much more of a progressive role; they’re wanting to contribute to addressing climate change. They are already looking at investing in new technologies that are much more efficient in the use of energy. They’re actually taking good leadership.

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