The stress of the pandemic has reinforced nation-first mentalities, deepened inequalities, and weakened the multilateral system. To fight global warming, governments must move beyond thinking in such narrow national terms and re-energize foreign policy as a crucial tool of effective climate action.
As a leader in international climate diplomacy, the EU still lacks an ecological foreign policy. The union will need to make some far-reaching changes to its geopolitical strategies if it is to place ecological imperatives above other interests.
COP26 provides a forum for deliberating about climate adaptation, but such global meetings must also account for the needs of developing nations. A narrow climate agenda will only perpetuate divisions between postindustrial and developing countries.
Berlin’s ability and willingness to lead Europe cannot be taken for granted. Any new coalition will first have to overcome major internal differences on climate, foreign policy, and defense before tackling the EU’s future direction.
Numerous—sometimes competing—forms of democratic engagement have tried to answer the rallying cry for climate action. If harmonized, initiatives including depoliticized democracy, climate assemblies, and protest movements can bring Europe closer to green democracy.
There will be no respite when European leaders return from a summer break punctuated by floods, cyber attacks, coronavirus, and challenges to the EU’s rule of law. All the more reason for them to explain to citizens what is at stake for Europe’s future.*
To fulfill its ambition of becoming an effective geopolitical power, the EU should place ecological security and diplomacy at the heart of its foreign and security policy. This approach should entail practical and innovative strategies that pursue systemic regeneration at home and abroad.
EU funding mobilized for the Western Balkans’ green transformation could ultimately flow right into the coffers of Russia and China. The European Commission cannot ignore the geopolitical implications of its Green Agenda for the region.
Climate change will increase the potential for humanitarian crises and instability. To strengthen the EU's capacity to prevent conflict and manage crises, climate security should be integrated into the Common Security and Defense Policy.
The EU is preparing a new deforestation package with international dimensions. After failing to meet its target of halting deforestation by 2020, this time the union must be aggressively ambitious. That means changing business-as-usual strategic and geo-economic behavior.