Two events in August 2019 underlined the complexity of paving the way to a climate-neutral world: the publishing of the new IPCC report and the Amazon fires. Both events demand that climate diplomats move beyond a narrowed focus on energy in decarbonisation debates.
First, the IPCC landmark report stresses that it will not be possible to keep global warming at safe levels unless there is a transformation in food production and land management, given that agriculture, forestry and other land use account for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Among the action areas are the restoration of peat lands and the need for drastic reductions of meat consumption. Secondly, the political disputes between Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and the EU regarding the Amazon further underline the need for better climate diplomacy, and quite literally looking at what is actually on the plate.
The Amazon forest fires and their (mis)management by the Brazilian government have sparked intense debate about the treatment of the world's largest rainforest. This discussion also reached the negotiation tables of the G7 summit as well as the EU trade negotiations with Mercosur. According to EU's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service the forest fires already emitted nearly 25 megatons of CO2 by mid-August – in addition to all the other negative impacts on the environment and societies.
In this edition of our newsletter, Adriana Abdenur, Coordinator of the Peace & Security Division at the Igarapé Institute, examines the potential of the EU-Mercosur trade deal for ensuring sustainable trade – and highlights a need to extend the EU’s climate diplomacy tool-box. One of her recommendations is to encourage the EU to decide what it accepts to be on its plates and what it does not. In other words, the EU must reassert its leadership role in paving the way for global decarbonisation.
In January 2020, the German Federal Foreign Office launched Green Central Asia, a regional initiative on climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The aim of the initiative is to support a dialogue in the region on climate change and associated risks in order to foster regional integration between the six countries involved.
Climate change will shift key coordinates of foreign policy in the coming years and decades. Even now, climate policy is more than just environment policy; it has long since arrived at the centre of foreign policy. The German Foreign Office recently released a report on climate diplomacy recognizing the biggest challenges to security posed by climate change and highlighting fields of action for strengthening international climate diplomacy.
A high-level ministerial conference in Berlin is looking at the impact of climate change on regional security in Central Asia. The aim is to foster stronger regional cooperation, improve the exchange of information and form connections with academia and civil society.
As we step into 2020, time has come to implement the Paris Agreement and raise climate ambition, but the geopolitical tide seems to be against it. The best way forward at this crucial juncture might be to forge a ‘climate coalition of the willing’ – recognising and streamlining actions of all actors at all levels.