In the face of climate change, how can nations count on one another to secure a future, if not better, at least possible
The world is in a crisis far more encompassing than the two World Wars combined in terms of its potential to bring every single nation to its knees. It’s not only extreme weather—deadly storms, prolonged droughts, intensified heatwaves, and raging forest fires—it’s also how, with its impact on food resources, water supply, health, lives, and livelihoods, climate change sure will have a dismal effect on political and economic stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, causing great conflict among nations.
Most crucial in this scenario is international cooperation, for which the European Commission has coined a more precise term—climate diplomacy, which in a nutshell calls for a stronger role for foreign policy in mitigating climate change and its repercussions on a global scale.
In pursuing the sustainability theme of Manila Bulletin’s celebration of its 123rd anniversary, I spoke with three European ambassadors—Michèle Boccoz of France, Ioannis Pediotis of Greece, and Jana Šediva of the Czech Republic—on how they are addressing the repercussions of climate change on their foreign policy agenda, asking each of them what they personally considered the most important policy the global community must agree on to protect the planet while meeting current needs and providing for the needs of future generations.
Here’s what they have to say.
On this 123rd anniversary of the Manila Bulletin, I would like to salute their work and their commitment to discuss issues that shape our societies, as they show once again with this theme of sustainability, at the heart of discussions on our common future. When it comes to protecting the planet while meeting current needs and ensuring the needs of future generations, France has strongly reinforced its official development assistance, one of its tools to fight extreme poverty, reduce inequalities, and protect the climate and ecosystems. It is this development aid that accompanies the social, territorial, digital, citizen and energy transitions of developing countries, which are essential for achieving the objectives of sustainable development. The global community must coordinate to strengthen this aid materially, but above all, it must bring together all the actors in sustainable development, from governments to civil society, the private sector and communities, in a coordinated action around the same goal.
—Ambassador Michèle Boccoz, Embassy of France
Climate diplomacy, in a nutshell, calls for a stronger role for foreign policy in mitigating climate change.
The protection of the planet is this generation’s defining task. The atmosphere is warming, and the climate is changing with each passing year. One million of the eight million species on the planet are at risk of being lost. Forests and oceans are being polluted and destroyed. The economies of the G20 are responsible for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The global climate and environmental challenges are a significant threat multiplier and a source of instability. We must work all together to increase climate and environmental resilience to prevent these challenges from becoming sources of conflict, food insecurity, population displacement, and forced migration. The protection of the planet is a complex mega issue with many interlinked parameters, at times contradictory. Facing the challenges require tailor-made geographic strategies that reflect different contexts and local needs, such as for current and future big emitters, for the least developed countries, and for developing island states.
The big crucial step would be the supply of clean, affordable, and secure energy, which would result in a clean economy and a toxic-free environment and would preserve and restore ecosystems and biodiversity. This requires building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way, which, in turn, requires huge scale financing and just transition measures for the populations to be affected.
—Ambassador Ioannis Pediotis, Embassy of Greece
In determining the most important move the world should make next to save our beautiful planet, I can see lots of room for personal responsibility and personal awareness in preventing any more pollution, in supporting reusing and recycling resources, in reducing our greenhouse emissions. There’s power in each of us, in each of us 7.888 billion citizens. Also important is our resolve to prevent wars in the future. With all kinds of perspectives acknowledged, I believe that, across generations, we can talk about current conflicts as well as conflicts that may arise in the future since we all want the same thing: a better tomorrow.
—Ambassador Jana Šediva, Embassy of the Czech Republic