Why climate change is foreign policy: The Federal Foreign Office Climate Diplomacy Report

Climate policy is more than just environment policy

Climate policy is more than just environment policy, © blickwinkel

24.01.2020 - Article

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.

As global warming progresses, climate change and the climate-security nexus will increasingly become the focus of foreign policy. The Federal Foreign Office Climate Diplomacy Report sees six future challenges and fields of action for a preventive climate diplomacy:

1. Implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement

The implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement must in future be even more of a focus of Germany’s bilateral and multilateral relations. A new climate diplomacy strategy is of key importance, particularly with regard to major emitters. Foreign Minister Maas commented:

Europe also has to lead the way, because only then will countries like China and India stay on track. This means that the EU must step up its climate goals for 2030 and make them more ambitious next year.

2. Climate and security: Climate change as a threat to peace and stability

In the coming years and decades, the security-policy dimension of climate change will become increasingly significant. The Federal Government has therefore set itself the goal of anchoring the climate-security nexus in the UN, in the EU context and in other international fora. In order to be able to provide partners with targeted support to deal with the security risks resulting from climate change, the Federal Foreign Office is developing a new foreign-policy toolbox. To that end, first ideas were presented in the Berlin Call for Action at the Berlin Climate and Security Conference in June 2019.

These range from more reporting and improved risk analysis to early-warning mechanisms.

3. Stabilisation, post-conflict peacebuilding and humanitarian assistance

A stronger focus needs to be placed on climate change and its consequences in all actions relating to stabilisation, post-conflict peacebuilding and humanitarian assistance, especially in places where armed conflicts have already broken out. A holistic and networked approach takes climate change into consideration in the analysis, planning and implementation of strategies. Conflicts over political or economic ownership as a result of ever scarcer resources will break out time and again in many regions around the world if EU and UN peacekeeping and stabilisation missions fail to take account of climate forecasts in their measures.

4. Climate, population growth and migration

Climate change, population growth and involuntary displacement are interconnected in a way which presents the international community with immense challenges. How and on what scale will displacement caused by climate change as well as regular and irregular migration develop? To what extent will demographic growth and increasing urbanisation influence climate change? What can the international community do to ensure that people forced to leave their homes as a result of the consequences of climate change receive protection and help? Germany wants to work with its partners to find answers to these questions.

5. Geopolitical changes due to climate change

Climate change results in geopolitical changes. Exporters of fossil fuels are at risk of losing influence. There is thus an increasing risk of crises in today’s energy exporting states. At the same time, however, the danger of conflicts over access to fossil fuels is diminishing. The Federal Foreign Office is taking up these issues with its partners to ensure that these risks do not materialise and that states can as a whole benefit from the change.

6. Further fields of action for a comprehensive climate diplomacy

In future, climate change must be taken into account in all areas of foreign relations – EU policy, trade and economic issues, the multilateral work done in the UN, but also Germany’s bilateral relations. Germany will work to further strengthen the EU’s climate diplomacy and internal EU cooperation in this sphere. Furthermore, within the scope of federal guarantees, the Federal Foreign Office fosters climate-friendly projects and technologies. Within the UN, the Federal Foreign Office is committed to ensuring that climate change and the Paris Climate Agreement are considered and taken into account in all relevant texts.


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