World needs EU to step up climate leadership


International leaders and UN officials gathering last weekend for a global security conference in Munich, Germany agreed that climate change is one of the biggest threats to international security and drastically increases the risk of armed conflict. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres listed global warming as one of the two top “megatrends” threatening world stability and stressed that it was “absolutely essential” that the international community “sticks to the Paris Agreement” and is “more ambitious”. Such a warning needs to be heeded by US President Donald Trump, who continues to threaten to pull his country out of the Paris climate deal, and the rest of the world. European leaders need to continue to lead the fight against climate change and not use the desperately misguided ideas of Trump as an excuse to lessen their own ambition. UK Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron this week accused the UK government of being “blinkered by right-wing climate change-sceptics who put warped ideology before common sense”. One glimmer of hope is Germany’s presidency of the G20 in 2017. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will use the July meeting as a prime opportunity to adopt climate change as a priority for the developed world for economic, stability and “responsibility” reasons.


Key Points

  • Climate change is one of the biggest threats to international security. In his address to the annual Munich Security Conference last weekend, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres listed global warming and population growth as the top two “megatrends” threatening world stability. He also stressed the importance of global climate action, underlining that the “the commitment of the international community to stick to the Paris Agreement and to be more ambitious… is absolutely essential”.
  • Europe can and should continue to be a climate action leader. The EU remains a crucial player in the international arena and needs to step up to the plate. This means both by ending the use of coal and rapidly speeding up the clean energy transition within its borders, and using its political clout to urgently address climate change through a global clean energy economy. Likewise, the EU needs to demonstrate leadership by forcing the US to live in the real world and address climate change as a major security threat. The G20 meeting in July is a key moment to make this point.
  • Climate sceptic actions will not help the US or any other country. US President Donald Trump is helping no-one with his threats to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and by downplaying the threats of climate change. Indeed, it is the solar and wind sectors that are bringing jobs and growth to the US. Recently released figures show that the US solar market saw its most successful year yet in 2016 and that employment in the wind and solar sectors in the US is growing by around 20% a year, exceeding the national employment growth rate by 12 to one. Likewise, turning away from renewables will only exacerbate the suffering of citizens from climate-related disasters, such as the floods being experienced in California.