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.
At the conclusion of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum, Pacific leaders issued a Forum Communiqué and the ‘Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now’ – the strongest collective statement the Forum has issued on climate change. Pacific leaders highlight the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, the SAMOA Pathway Review, and 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC as “global turning points to ensure meaningful, measurable and effective climate change action”.
If ratified, the Mercosur-EU trade deal may reinforce the parties’ commitment to climate action. Yet, its potential relevance is weakened by a language that often stops short of concrete commitments, as well as political resistance.
Iraq is on the verge of an environmental breakdown, and climate change is not helping. The country's fragile environment and the increasing scarcity of natural resources — particularly water — are a result of poor environmental management, as well as several political and historical factors. However, as climate change impacts add to the existing pressures, the environmental collapse turns into a security issue.
The severity of desertification and its mutual relationship with climate change cannot be overstated. In light of the recent launch of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Robert McSweeney from Carbon Brief explains what desertification is, what role climate change plays, and what impact it has across the world.