This summer, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini revealed the long-awaited Global Strategy “Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe”. As part of the Strategy, the EU broadens its climate diplomacy approach and integrates it into its overall foreign and security policy thinking. Its predecessor, the European Security Strategy, released in 2003, contained no mention of the climate, whereas now it is cited 26 times. Indeed, this is an important step to help ensure that external climate action is more effective and coherent. Policymakers and diplomats of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and foreign services of the Member States are now tasked with putting this shared vision into practice.
The Global Strategy “sets out the EU's core interests and principles for engaging in the world” and aims very much at providing a holistic (“global”) approach. A comprehensive outreach and consultation process provided input, conducted by the EU Institute for Security Studies (EU ISS) in cooperation with the EEAS. For climate diplomacy, this drew most notably on a conference which took place earlier this year to discuss strategic needs in light of the Paris Agreement.
EU climate diplomacy has made significant progress in recent years, built on three strategic strands, one of these strands explicitly centered on the security impacts of climate change. EU climate diplomacy has facilitated the break-through needed to secure agreement in Paris and has also improved the way it involves and coordinates with delegations and Member States’ foreign services, not least through the Green Diplomacy Network.
It is now timely that the EU broadens its climate diplomacy approach, integrating it into its overall foreign and security policy thinking. It could have even gone a step further, dedicating a section specifically to climate-related challenges and emerging threats, as it did for energy security, for example.
Nevertheless, the new document recognizes the strategic importance of climate change as a root cause of conflict and a “threat multiplier that catalyses water and food scarcity, pandemics and displacement”, and calls for pre-emptive peacebuilding and diplomacy, and for enhancing energy and environmental resilience. For the latter, it also highlights the transition risks that could fuel social tensions and need to be addressed – e.g. in fossil fuel reliant economies.
It is also encouraging to see that the Strategy includes aims to “increase climate financing, drive climate mainstreaming in multilateral fora, raise the ambition for review foreseen in the Paris agreement, and work for clean energy cost reductions” (for the latter, one step was joining Mission Innovation). Each of these goals requires the continued work of diplomats.
Last but not least, the Strategy reconfirms, but broadens the EU’s approach with respect to ‘effective multilateralism’. To a certain extent, with the success of the Paris Agreement, climate diplomacy exemplifies that multilateralism can still be effective, but in the face of evolving geopolitical realities, bilateral partnerships with key countries will gain increasing importance. This was already an instrumental element of building support in advance of the Agreement, but it will be important to systematically scrutinize and evaluate opportunities arising for climate diplomacy.
Policy-makers and diplomats of the EEAS and foreign services of the Member States’ are now tasked with putting this shared vision into practice, and, furthermore, mainstreaming climate diplomacy into concrete action. A potential first step could be joint discussions and briefings with diplomats working, for instance, on energy, economic cooperation, and security policy, and the relevance of these sectoral areas for climate diplomacy.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are currently engaged in vital talks over the dispute relating to the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. While non-African actors are increasingly present in the negotiations, the African Union (AU) is playing a marginal role.
Climate change was more central than ever at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. The release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” (WCSR 2020) by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) should help policymakers take effective action.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.