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.
“It is time to do more than just talk about sustainability. It is time to act sustainably,” said Heiko Maas during his speech at the General Debate of the 74th United Nations General Assembly. Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs highlighted the need for multilateral cooperation to achieve worldwide sustainability, as well as Germany's focus on climate-security, women, and disarmament and arms control as part of its agenda in the UN Security Council.
Ahead of the most important climate action event of the year, the international expert community releases key reports with the latest scientific information on climate impacts, national targets and climate action progress over the last 25 years. Now climate diplomats have only one thing to focus on: stepping-up implementation.
The guidelines for conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change were developed by adelphi on behalf of the German environment Agency (UBA) and outline how to design and implement an adaptation project in a fragile or conflict-affected context. Addressed at planners and project managers, the guide provides tools and methods to ensure that an adaptation project does not exacerbate tensions and, ideally, contributes to peace and stability.
Policymakers and emergency managers tend to build a conceptual wall between natural hazards and terrorism. The causes of—and remedies for—these two kinds of disasters are seen as separate and distinct. But, in the era of climate change, the wall between the two is crumbling. As climate and weather patterns shift, the resulting environmental crisis is being leveraged as a tool for terror and political violence.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
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.
As the links between the climate crisis and risks to global peace and prosperity become ever more evident, foreign policy actors are increasingly under pressure to step up their efforts to address climate-related risks. To increase the momentum for addressing climate-related drivers of conflict, the German Federal Foreign Office in partnership with adelphi and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) hosted the Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) at the German Federal Foreign Office on 4 June 2019.
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. The Special Report on Climate Change and Land, launched by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 8 August 2019, looks into land resources as critical for the climate, and highlights the importance of sound land management for addressing climate change. The report will be a key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations.
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.
The 2015 Paris Agreement has focused global attention on the need for countries to address climate change risks. But not all countries are equal, in terms of either their ambition or ability to achieve economies which are low-carbon and aligned with greenhouse gas emission trajectories which scientists say are necessary to limit warming to 2ºC. The associated transition in national energy systems and broader economies to a low-carbon world will present risks, but also opportunities.
“Climate Security risks will materialise in very different ways and forms, whether we talk about Lake Chad or about the Arctic, Bangladesh and the Small Island Developing States,” said the EU’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Joao Vale de Almeida, in his opening remarks. “But for the EU, there is no doubt, as underlined in 2016 in our Global Strategy, and reaffirmed by the 28 Ministers of Foreign Affairs, that climate change is a major threat to the security of the EU and to global peace and security more generally,” he said.