Right-wing populist parties are already part of the governments of seven EU member states and are expected to make up a quarter of MEPs after the European elections in May 2019. In this episode host Martin Wall talks to the authors of an explorative study on the the voices and the weight of right-wing populist parties in the formulation of European climate policy.
Originally planned as a demonstration against fuel tax hikes, the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) revolts have sparked national and global debates. Some view the demonstrations as part of a rising anti-climate movement, while others draw parallels between the protests and demands for more climate action.
The pro-coal position of Poland’s energy ministry has thrown sand into the country’s climate diplomacy as COP24 president-designate Michał Kurtyka intensifies his diplomatic tour ahead of the United Nation’s annual climate meeting later this year in Katowice.
French environment minister Nicolas Hulot has resigned live on national radio in a surprise move that will come as a blow to president Emmanuel Macron’s green credentials. Nicolas Hulot had not made the French president aware of his decision to quit, he told radio presenters, adding his time in office had been an ‘accumulation of disappointments’.
The idea of a “new middle” or “third way”—a blend of neo-liberal economic doctrines and social policies that was supposed to overcome the dichotomy between mixed economy and free market paradigms—more or less dominated U.S. and European politics for the last two decades. But today, this centrist consensus has been upended by a wave of populist, nationalist parties. Many have won over their electorates by questioning the benefits of free trade and globalization (as well as the international institutions that espouse them), while pursuing expansionary domestic economic policies.
The UK has been accused of trying to “fudge” how much money it spends on subsidising coal mining and fossil fuel use despite its pledge to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020.
The EU’s decision to phase out palm oil biodiesel is likely to backfire, with negative repercussions not just on the countries concerned but also on international relations and the climate. The EU should hence invest more heavily in climate diplomacy in order to find a real solution to problems such as deforestation and wildlife loss.
EU climate diplomacy is picking up momentum in 2018, focussing on the security implications of climate change. A number of pertinent steps serve to address the climate-security nexus as well as make advocacy efforts more systematic. The flurry of activities includes Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions, the preparation of a parliamentary report on climate diplomacy, and a high-level debate at the initiative of foreign affairs chief Mogherini.
Former UN climate Chief Christiana Figueres, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, has called on the European Union to step up regulatory action against deforestation in the global south by tackling emissions of imported agricultural goods like beef, soy and palm oil.
France likes to be seen as a leader on climate action, but when it comes to the role of forests, the country’s priorities lie elsewhere.
After a change at the top, the U.S. stance on the environment is poised to take a drastic step back. In Europe, less liberal leaders are gaining momentum. Populist movements mushrooming all over the continent preach isolationism and reject hard facts as a pivot of the political agenda. Author Lou Del Bello argues that under this new, shifting political landscape, the climate movement needs to reconnect with the grassroots.
Intensive international cooperation is a key prerequisite for successful and ambitious global climate action. Russia, one of the world’s top 5 greenhouse gas emitters and the second largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, has long been regarded as one of the major veto players in international climate politics. Nevertheless, during the last decade climate awareness among Russian policymakers and other relevant stakeholders has increased dramatically. This is illustrated by the fact that the updated Strategy of National Security of the Russian Federation refers to climate change as a threat to national and public security. The Paris Agreement gave the Russian climate policy a new strong impetus.
One of the last biodiversity hotspots in Europe was also backdrop to one of its last violent conflicts and now home to its newest nation states. The Prokletije/Bjeshket e Nemuna Mountains, often referred to as the Southern Alps, are a large expanse of wilderness and stunning alpine landscapes that form the border between Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo.
How can Arctic states prevent the region from becoming a pawn in outside conflicts or domestic crises? Mikkel Runge Olesen believes that the states must inject greater consistency and stability into their national Arctic strategies.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Norway in mid-October, the first by an Indian head of state, was a signal of India’s rising profile in the Arctic.