The EU and Climate Security: Toward Ecological Diplomacy



Olivia Lazard, Richard Youngs | Carnegie Endowment Europe

The EU stands at a critical juncture in its commitment to energy transition and action against climate change. The European Green Deal brings together multiple strands of policy to propel European states toward a low-carbon economy. However, as the EU deepens and accelerates its internal energy transition, climate action must become a more pivotal issue for the union’s external action. Europe’s energy transition will have far-reaching effects, particularly for the bloc’s relationship with the wider world. At the same time, the impacts of climate change on politics and interstate relations globally will present increasingly pressing challenges for the EU’s security and other interests.

These observations are highly pertinent and connect to another major EU commitment: becoming a stronger geopolitical power. Linking these issues, this compilation explores how the EU could—through its external policies—be an effective geopolitical power in dealing with climate change and ecological shifts.

Extensive analytical work has accumulated on climate security and mainly makes the general case for why the EU needs to take climate factors more seriously within its foreign policies. But after more than a decade of policy efforts, the EU already has a dense network of ongoing initiatives that fall to some degree within the scope of climate security. Given this, the priority should no longer be restating the basics of why climate represents a geopolitical challenge. The EU has already moved some distance along this policy curve. Rather, it should be to assess the more precise ways in which the EU is approaching climate security.

The following six chapters here assess different elements of the climate security challenge. Through these different contributions, a core argument emerges: the EU needs a broader understanding of climate geopolitics to extend and improve its already rich array of policy initiatives in this area. It essentially needs to transition from its current conceptualization of climate security to a more ambitious notion of ecological security.


To read the full report from the Carnegie Endowment Europe, please click here.