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”.
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.
For the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental. They are: extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, major natural disasters, major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and human-made environmental damage and disasters.
If you have even a passing familiarity with the climate and security literature, you undoubtedly have come across the phrase “threat multiplier.” The phrase conveys the idea that climate change intersects with other factors to contribute to security problems. It’s used as short-hand to avoid the charge of environmental determinism, that climate change somehow on its own causes negative security outcomes.
As the second week of COP25 begins in Madrid, it is time to stress once more the importance of building momentum for adaptation. There is obviously a need for adaptation planning, implementation and financing. However, so far only seventeen countries have presented National Adaptation Plans (NAP) - despite international partners providing important support.
The momentum for climate action we are witnessing is extraordinary. Throughout 2019, millions of people took the streets all around the world to join the youth climate movement's school strike. Yet at this year’s most important climate politics meeting, the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, most governments were far from committing to sufficient action to avert dangerous climate change. Dr. Beatrice Mosello and Dr. Virginie Le Masson explain how to move things forward.
If the United Nations is to effectively deal with climate-related security risks, it needs expert support from every region. That’s where the Climate Security Expert Network comes in.
Climate change is increasingly challenging global security and undermining peacebuilding efforts. UN Environment and the European Union have joined forces to address these challenges. With the support of adelphi, they have developed a toolkit on ‘Addressing climate-fragility risks’. This toolkit facilitates the development and implementation of strategies, policies, and projects that seek to build resilience by linking climate change adaptation, peacebuilding, and sustainable livelihoods, focusing on the pilot countries Sudan and Nepal.
Nobody needs to be convinced that climate change affects our very existence and security. However, experts are interested to know how climate change affects security at a global level and what the EU can do in that regard. This was the main aim of the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) Climate Change and Security Course co-organised by the French Institute for Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN) and adelphi, as part of the Climate Diplomacy initiative supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, which took place in Brussels from 21 to 23 October 2019.
European peatlands could turn from carbon sinks to sources as a quarter have reached levels of dryness unsurpassed in a record stretching back 2,000 years, according to a new study. This trend of “widespread” and “substantial” drying corresponds to recent climate change, both natural and human-caused, but may also be exacerbated by the peatlands being used for agriculture and fuel.
International political boundaries are arbitrary creations. Today’s borders are better described as imaginary lines on maps, rather than hard barriers between states. Often using mountains, rivers, or other geographical landmarks, modern borders are entrenched in historic tradition rather than logic and fact. As a result, today’s international borders are poorly equipped to handle modern challenges, in particular climate change, which has already begun to threaten the most important state resource, fresh water.
A group of five small countries have announced that they will launch negotiations on a new Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability, which, if successful, would constitute the first international trade agreement focused solely on climate change and sustainable development. The initiative also breaks new ground by aiming to simultaneously remove barriers for trade in environmental goods and services and crafting binding rules to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Small countries can pioneer the development of new trade rules that can help achieve climate goals, but making credible commitments, attracting additional participants, and ensuring transparency will be essential ingredients for long-term success.
Ten years after committing to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, G20 countries still subsidise coal, oil and gas to the tune of around USD 150 billion annually. The process to try to move the G20 forward on this issue has been via peer review of fossil fuel subsidies, but these reviews need to be followed by action. Subsidy reforms could free up resources that could be channeled back into government programmes, which would be necessary to mitigate the impacts of rising energy prices on vulnerable populations and to help smooth reforms, and could also be spent on accelerating a clean energy transition.
Adapting to climate change and strengthening resilience are becoming priorities for the international community – however, they require greater ambition in climate policy. 107 governments and numerous international organisations have endorsed a call for action on raising ambition at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on 23rd September 2019. Following the summit, the Global Commission on Adaptation will begin its Year of Action to meet the climate challenges ahead. The Year of Action is here to accelerate climate adaptation around the world, to improve human well-being and to drive more sustainable economic development and security.
Access to water can be a critical resource for cooperation, but also a source of tension. Identifying risks before their onset is crucial for the efficiency and economic feasibility of intervention strategies, but how can these risks be measured? To address this conundrum, adelphi together with several partners convened a side-event at World Water Week, which connected experts developing analytical tools to policy makers in the water sector.