13 September 2021

Carnegie Europe urges the EU to embrace ecological security in its foreign & security policy

A new Carnegie Europe Publication argues that as the EU implements its internal European Green Deal, there must be a concurrent push in its external affairs to implement climate action. This can go hand in hand with another major EU goal: to become a stronger geopolitical power. The EU already has a number of programmes that seek to do this, but the paper’s authors argue that the EU’s focus on carbon emissions reductions has meant that support for far-reaching systemic change which can underpin ecological stability and balance has been neglected. The authors argue that the security of the world’s interconnected ecosystems, which sustain life on Earth, is a precondition for all other types of security. This is threatened not only by climate change but also by actions that degrade ecosystems like pollution and biodiversity loss.

According to the authors, until now, the EU has mainly focused on the tail end of the problem, by focusing on carbon emissions cuts and trying to address geographical conflicts which seem climate-related. However, this approach neglects a critical intervening factor: the ecosystem. For example, water and natural resource scarcity that can lead to conflict in arid areas is driven not only by climate change but also by harmful practices by deforestation and wildlife trade. Solving the issues at the root of these conflicts will require not only climate change adaptation and mitigation but also practices that seek to protect and strengthen ecosystem services. The EU must help begin to take action in those areas of the world most at risk. As a part of this, the EU should work to ensure that geopolitical conflict which will further degrade ecological stability does not arise over natural resources like rare earth minerals. 

As a part of this programme, the EU should seek to reduce the policy incoherence that has arisen due to the different arms of its apparatus working towards similar but different goals. To address these complex international issues it will not be sufficient that the EU scales up its existing apparatus. Instead, it must make a qualitative change in the way that it addresses the ecological crisis.

Read the publication here.

Photocredit: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid/Flickr