Climate Change and Foreign Policy: Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Recommendations

The concluding section of this paper summarizes the options identified in sections three to seven. A brief description and a rationale as to how these areas could open new avenues for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in achieving climate change objectives in the context of foreign policy is included.

While this paper attempts to identify options through which new dynamics might be brought into the climate change process, as noted in the introduction, it is important to understand that the report is an initial exercise in a challenging area. To further develop these options will require the use of more sophisticated diagnostic tools that disaggregate causality and a dialogue with relevant actors in the identified areas to ensure that the assumptions made in this paper are feasible and workable.

International Diplomacy

The way decisions are taken is critical and the Danish government may be able to influence this process on a number of levels. At the level of the EU, engagement on climate change needs to be taken not only in an environmental context, but also outside the environment “box.” But the limits to climate policy imposed through other policies, such as energy or trade, also need to be removed. This requires EU leaders to engage at a much more strategic level on climate change than at present.

The role of the EU as a broker in international negotiations over foreign policy and climate change should not be underestimated. For example, opportunities for dialogue between Arctic countries on a range of issues, such as through the Northern Dimension, might create space for dealing with the problems of increased resource exploitation. The EU has already demonstrated its capability in this area through its diplomacy with Russia over ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, facilitating entry into force. However the EU needs to be more self-confident, coherent and outward-looking to do this effectively.

Increasingly, the EU and the United States are recognizing that in addition to bilateral and multilateral cooperation, there needs to be a mechanism for dealing with third countries. “Triangulation” provides the opportunity for the EU or United States to engage with emerging economies (such as China) and third countries in the developing world. Management of the EU/U.S.–China–developing country relationship will be critical if the pursuit of common global goals is to be sustainable.

A number of recommendations can be made in relation to the Arctic. The Arctic Council’s ability to address climate change issues should be strengthened since sustainable development is at the heart of its mandate. There are opportunities to mainstream the policy implications from the ACIA into its broader work, such as on sustainable development, well-being of Arctic peoples, pollution from industrial activities and conservation of natural resources. These agendas relate to both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. This may require providing the Arctic Council with a stronger political mandate, which may also include a more bottom up approach to its work and the development of a fund.

Scientific cooperation in relation to climate change can be strengthened, for example by building on the ACIA. This could be done by deepening the analysis (e.g., by developing further scenarios) and a robust program of monitoring. Lessons from scientific cooperation in Antarctica could be applied.

International Polar Year (2007–2009) could be used as a mechanism to expand international dialogue and cooperation around the Arctic, both inside and outside the Arctic Council. There are opportunities to use the images arising from climate change impacts to raise awareness of the public and policy-makers on the realities of climate change. It should also be seen as an opportunity to galvanize a more concerted voice of Arctic stakeholders into the wider world.

Danish input to the various coordination bodies of the UN system (e.g., Environment Management Group, UN Development Group, Global Ministerial Environment Forum) could stress that climate change is a cross-cutting issue rather than a discrete topic to be addressed under an environment discussion. An examination of climate change and its linkages to the programs and activities of the various UN bodies could help to increase understanding and encourage coherency in this regard.

Energy Security and Investment

Denmark is well-positioned to promote the idea that climate-friendly actions will work to enhance energy supply issues, and to champion this message internationally. Focused research and analysis is needed to demonstrate this linkage and to examine the shifting dynamic of the role of energy security and climate change in geopolitical relations.

Denmark could reinforce this message by targeting and engaging energy-importing countries, such as China which is seeking inputs to strengthen its energy supply situation, through partnerships in the areas of clean energy approaches, renewables and energy efficiency. The Danish government should partner with the private sector to deliver these focused efforts, which are based on successful domestic experience. In this partnership, the government can lever their relationships to strengthen the offers and work jointly with the private sector to market and deliver energy experience and know-how.

For energy exporting countries, efforts to improve market access and promote liberalization will help oil-producers to diversify their economies and improve non-oil investments. Strengthened producer-consumer relations will help to achieve more stable markets and prices. Both could help to achieve economic and climate change goals but it requires decision-makers to make the connections among energy, economic and climate change objectives.

Development Cooperation

To help make these connections among energy, economic and climate change objectives, it is worth building climate change into policy areas where decision-makers already have traction. A good example of decision-makers effectively making the connections and drawing on their strengths is the work being carried out by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to integrate climate thinking into development assistance. This experience in mainstreaming climate change and adaptation in development programming should be encouraged in IFIs, UN organizations and other international fora.

Development cooperation can also be used to address the varying needs of developing countries and encourage support for international climate change efforts. For example:

  • In LDCs and other vulnerable developing countries: increase funding for adaptation by mainstreaming climate into bilateral aid programs and by encouraging adequate investments in the UNFCCC climate funds, and replenishing the GEF at or above current levels, and encouraging non-incremental financing for adaptation projects; and provide capacity building for climate change negotiators and officials in sectoral departments (e.g., finance, industry, energy) to ensure that they are able to understand and assess the potential impacts of proposed post-2012 regimes and other efforts to address the climate change challenge.
  • For high-emitting developing countries: undertake cooperative analysis with these countries to explore the impacts of different post-2012 regime options and the impacts of pursuing a clean energy technology path; investigate options for the transfer of climate-friendly technology to help leverage further clean investment, including through the CDM; and provide capacity building for the creation of market incentives to encourage adaptation actions.

The Danish government could also consider actions and funding to improve disaster relief, and assist developing country populations in dealing with the consequences of extreme weather events. For example, the government could support implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the sustainable development of SIDS. Other options to pursue include a fund for remedial actions (e.g., insurance mechanism paid for by developed countries) as well as a fund for preventative actions (closely linked or aligned with the climate funds under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol).

International Peace and Security

Denmark can use its influence in the UN system to try to get anthropogenic climate change recognized as a threat to international peace and security; either explicitly under Article 39 of the Chapter VII powers of the UN Security Council, or implicitly as language in a wider resolution.

Opportunity also exists to incorporate climate change considerations into risk assessments of Denmark’s foreign policy, security and development priorities. Both of these opportunities can be supported by evidence-based research to link climate change with proximate security threats in a way that helps to make the case for concerted action on climate change.

Trade and Investment

There are a number of specific actions that might help advance opportunities in the area of trade and investment:

  • Exert pressure to tone down the somewhat aggressive EU calls for reciprocal concessions by developing countries in trade negotiations and in the ongoing EPA negotiations.
  • Explicitly incorporate climate change elements in any aid-for-trade and/or trade facilitation efforts supported by Denmark.
  • Establish a mechanism for screening the various potential WTO outcomes from a sustainable development viewpoint (either at the Danish or the EU level). Paragraph 51 of the Doha Declaration envisions a role of this sort for the Committee on Trade and Environment, but to date the challenge has only partly been taken up in the form of Sustainability Impact Assessments[1]. A similar mechanism would have value for the EPA negotiations.
  • Based on the results of such a screening, encourage the EU to make a WTO submission (presumably to the Committee on Trade and Environment) outlining the importance to climate change efforts of a successful outcome in the various negotiating areas of the WTO.
  • Working from the model ofnegotiation that helped bring about Russian ratification of Kyoto, engage in strategic bilateral talks with those developing countries that are key to both the Doha and post-2012 negotiations, looking for cross-issue agreements that might foster progress.
  • Encourage finance ministries and foreign ministries responsible for international negotiations to enter the debate on improved standards for ECAs for climate change issues.

Diplomatic Networking

No change is possible unless there is institutional buy-in within the foreign policy community. This requires senior managers within Foreign Ministries to set the direction and provide a focal point within their institutions for pushing the agenda forward. The announcement in June 2006 by the U.K. Foreign Minister, Margaret Beckett, identifying climate change as a priority area for the U.K. foreign mission, is a strong example of this commitment. Beyond that, ongoing political engagement, a diplomatic network willing to deliver and a coherent, cross-government approach are the three most important elements needed to achieve climate change objectives.


  1. ^Paragraph 51 charges the Committees on Trade and Development and Trade and Environment to “act as a forum to identify and debate developmental and environmental aspects of the negotiations, in order to help achieve the objective of having sustainable development appropriately reflected.”

This is a chapter from Climate Change and Foreign Policy: An exploration of options for greater integration (e-book).
Previous: Development Cooperation  |  Table of Contents  |  Next: Climate Change at the Multilateral Level




Development, I., Drexhage, J., Murphy, D., Brown, O., Cosbey, A., Dickey, P., Parry, J., Ham, J., Tarasofsky, R., & Darkin, B. (2012). Climate Change and Foreign Policy: Chapter 8. Retrieved from


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