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The Brief: 2020 - the most critical year yet for climate diplomacy

The Brief: 2020 - the most critical year yet for climate diplomacy
Copyright  AP John Mcconnico
Copyright  AP John Mcconnico
By Jack Parrock, Greg Lory
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Governments in Europe are declaring climate emergencies, the EU is touting its Green Deal, but unless other countries get on board is there any hope for climate action? That's where climate diplomacy comes in.


Burning forests around the globe are igniting new political discussion. And it has given rise to a new term - Climate diplomacy. 

The European Union is trying to use climate policy as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with other countries and international organisations.

It's an issue that E3G, a climate change think tank, is seeking to move higher up the agenda - to accelerate a global transition to a low carbon economy,

"Climate is definitely a huge threat multiplier. It means that in fragile regions or regions already recovering from wars, climate impact can be a reason why peace breaks out. And that is something that thankfully a lot of European countries have been very aware of and so actually in the past ten years there's been quite a lot of activity by European countries, particularly in the UN security council," Jennifer Tollman, Policy adviser at E3G's Climate Diplomacy team tells Euronews.

For the EU, 2020 is a significant year. The UK is leaving the Union and will be hosting the next COP (26 in Glasgow), the world's most important international climate conference. But Brexit could affect the EU's fledgling climate diplomacy goals in terms of personnel alone.

"The UK has the largest number of climate energy diplomats. If those are withdrawn, then Europe definitely needs to supply more diplomats itself because otherwise it's going to be losing almost 150 diplomats. And at the minute there are very few other European countries that invest quite as much in climate diplomacy in terms of actual people on the ground, who can have s day-to-day chat with ministries in countries like Nigeria or China," says Tollman.

The European Commission's New Green Deal is supposed to serve as a standard bearer for the EU's climate diplomacy. But achieving carbon neutrality in 2050 is proving a divisive issue among member states.

"We are a little worried because we see that it is very green but not very fair at the moment. So I want to make sure that my European colleagues understand that this must be the subject of special attention at the moment," Spain's Foreign Minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters ahead of the Foreign Affairs meeting on Monday in Brussels.

EU officials say climate action is no longer limited to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but that it's also a tool to mitigate the impact of environmental change on peace and security.

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