Climate Change Could Fuel Future Terror Attacks: French Minister


Following hot on the heels of Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, a French Minister and a United Nations Envoy have acknowledged potential links between terrorism and climate change. Thom Mitchell reports from Paris.

Representatives of the French government and United Nations have drawn a link between recent terror attacks in Paris and the imperative for success at upcoming climate change negotiations due to kick off in Paris on Monday at a youth summit modelling the main event.

“There’s no systematic link between the recent terrorist attacks and climate, but on the other hand, migration related to climate change could provoke international disorder,” said Patrick Kanner, the French Minister for Sports, Youth, popular education and community life.

“Uncontrolled migration related to climate change events could give rise to social and economic tensions and lead some political movements, like Daesh, to take control,” Kanner told New Matilda.

It’s a sentiment that was echoed by the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, who said that as well as a message of solidarity with victims of the Paris attacks “we are also here to send a message of support and solidarity with the planet”.

“It’s the only planet we have, and we are here to show the power of young people when they are united,” Alhendawi said.

new matilda, patrick kanner
Patrick Kanner. (IMAGE: Thom Michell)

The Conference of Youth mirrors the higher profile Conference of the Parties, where international governments will attempt to negotiate a global solution to climate change, and both Kanner and Alhendawi stressed the importance of youth participation.

“Your message is clear, you are ready and willing, you want to do things, you have things to say on the fate of the planet, so go right ahead,” Kanner said on opening the conference.


Alhendawi urged young people “not be terrorised or allow for groups of fanatics to change us” and said participants must “raise their voices” so that messages about climate change can be heard alongside the global outcry against the Paris terror attacks which killed 130 people.

“What’s at stake today is our future, and the future of the future generation, and we simply cannot afford to gamble with our future,” he said.

“Nobody has the right to gamble with the future…we didn’t inherit this planet Earth, we are borrowing it from the future generations, and we have to make sure we are giving it to the future generations in good shape.”

new matilda, ahmad alhendawi
Ahmad Alhendawi (IMAGE: Thom Mitchell)

The casual link between an increasingly hostile environment and national security issues has formed a growing part of the discussion around the need to tackle climate change in recent years, with military establishments around the world already planning for how it might influence the global geopolitical balance.

“It’s causing potential humanitarian issues [and]it’s impacting on geopolitical stability, which at the end of the day is a sort of prerequisite for our economic growth and prosperity,” Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, who until recently advised the UK government on climate and security, told New Matilda in July.

“It is difficult to make progress beyond what is perceived by many as a niche issue, and so the mainstreaming of climate change along with all the other threats and challenges that Australian or any other society faces is key,” he said.

“Once it’s [mainstreamed]I think a million other things will cascade out of that because the analysis will show that, actually, the impacts of this changing climate in the sense of it being an increasing risk.

“Then you start to see that this is something that needs to be factored into everything, and then the other activities follow from that.”

Negotiators filtering into Paris this week ahead of the historic climate talks are hoping a more specific outcome will flow from their efforts: A legally binding treaty between the governments of the world to keep the rise in temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius.

Opening the three-day youth summit, Kanner noted the “natural inclination” for young people to push for an ambitious and binding treaty, and said that they must be allowed to make an active contribution to the Conference of the Parties as well.

As Alhendawi said, Young people are showing that they have a say, and they want to influence the negotiations, because they are the ones who are going to suffer the consequences of not reaching a legally binding agreement.”

Thom Mitchell is in Paris to cover the COP21 talks.

Thom Mitchell is New Matilda's Environment Reporter.