Climate change – a foreign policy challenge

19.02.2015 - Article

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and thus also a key foreign policy task.

While the climate has undergone many shifts over the course of the earth’s history, it has changed so rapidly since the Industrial Revolution that the human influence on the planet’s natural radiative balance – known as the greenhouse effect – can no longer be denied. By emitting greenhouse gases, especially CO2, into the atmosphere, human beings have played a part in warming the earth’s surface.

Forecast for the mean rise of sea levels up to 2100 according to scenario A1B of the IPPC
Forecast for the mean rise of sea levels up to 2100 according to scenario A1B of the IPPC© picture-alliance/dpa

The effects of this are making themselves felt even today, with an increase in the number of severe crop failures, floods, droughts and storms that remind us of mankind’s dependence on climatic conditions. In addition to this, the human race is becoming increasingly vulnerable as a result of population growth, global supply chains and the development of sensitive infrastructures. Climate change has an immense impact on food, water and energy security, as well as on the world economy and the relations between countries.

International climate protection as a key foreign policy task

Three aims are at the heart of the Federal Foreign Office’s climate diplomacy:

  • Supporting international climate policy
  • Discussing the impact of climate change on foreign and security policy
  • Engaging in dialogue with the international community for greater climate protection

International climate policy

The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the delegation headed by the Federal Environment Ministry at the climate negotiations of the United Nations, primarily by supplying information and analyses from the German missions abroad. This information helps the German negotiators to better understand the positions of other countries and to sound out compromises.

In addition, the Federal Foreign Office is flanking the negotiators’ work by addressing individual aspects in talks with government representatives of other countries and organising events on these issues. For example, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier hosted a reception for the Small Island States particularly affected by climate change on the fringes of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September 2014 in New York. Click here to read Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s speech at the reception.

Further Information

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Kyoto Protocol

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