The UK must use its influence to ensure that the pursuit of pure zero also catalyzes progress towards national security goals, argues Will Young of the Geostrategy Council.
The Rio Summit on Climate Change in 1992 endorsed the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR). The CBDR ensures that historically large emissions tend to be more industrialized by countries that have started industrialization earlier: they have benefited most from the emissions and reaped the benefits – logically they can afford to do more. It was an elegant solution to the complex reality that no country is going to give up economic growth to protect the climate.
However, as new economic powers such as China have risen amid carbon-intensive industries, this has demonstrated the CBDR’s weaknesses in losing its domestic audience – when it comes to the crisis, many are not responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. ancestors also regret that countries like China have colossal emissions – absolute and per capita – even though they knew it was causing climate change (the luxury – or burden – was not found in many people’s ancestors). In turn, this undermines the mantra of climate activists “global problem, global solution” and makes those who say it look inconspicuous at best and naive at worst.
Of course, China’s unexpected drive to reach net zero by 2060 and large investments in wind, solar and electric vehicles suggest that it plays a role in controlling emissions. However, while per capita emissions are declining in the developed world, China continues to grow as it continues to strive for wealth and power. The World Bank estimates that China will become a developed country in the next few years, possibly as early as 2023. This will place additional emphasis on the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to combat climate change.
However, in this complex interplay of intentions, strategies, policies and actions, the CCP does not mind using climate to kill the wedge between developed and developing countries. And despite all HMG’s efforts, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep climate policy cooperation separate from geopolitical issues. The CCP knows that if it can successfully put developed countries as historically guilty and therefore primarily responsible for climate change, it serves its purpose of revising the international system in its favor.
So we know that there is an internal tension from blindly chanting mantras, and we know that the CCP is using this against developed countries, so what to do? Truth be told, the UK is in a good position to become a leader at the intersection of climate and national security policy. It now produces just under one percent of global emissions – a remarkable feat for the world’s fifth-largest economy. She has consistently led and supported the development of international norms and institutions that seek to address this issue, from the UNFCCC to the Paris Agreement and most recently to the Glasgow Pact.
With such a track record of multilateral efforts, it is time to take a more active approach to bilateral and multilateral approaches, building relationships with old and new friends to enable developing countries such as South Africa, Vietnam, India and Indonesia to reap the benefits. . the benefits of technological advances over the last twenty years – whether it be two- and three-wheeled electric cars or electric buses, or offshore wind and green hydrogen production. It must also build relationships with those countries for which adaptation will be an even bigger challenge than mitigation, including Commonwealth countries such as Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
In short, it is important for HMG to develop an approach to climate change that goes beyond the exclusive focus on “global challenges” that require “global solutions”.
In the Integrated Review, published in March 2021, combating climate change and biodiversity loss has become a priority for “Global Britain”. The development of a principled geostrategic approach, backed by sustained political action and a clear narrative that will consolidate the UK’s climate leadership and minimize China’s split efforts, must begin now.
The good news is that this has already begun. Indeed, at COP26 the UK and a network of democracies launched the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), which mobilized around £ 6.25 billion to support South Africa’s retreat from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. This partnership could serve as a plan for counter-offer and effectively address climate and national security goals and, in doing so, eliminate accusations of naivety that are often leveled at the climate leadership.
William Young is Director of BloombergNEF and Research Fellow in Environmental Security at the Geostrategy Council
https://www.businessgreen.com/opinion/4051055/protect-climate-diplomacy-discursive-statecraft We must protect climate diplomacy from discursive governance