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FEATURE: The diplomatic way to avoid dangerous climate change

A new report on climate diplomacy aims to help governments integrate climate change into decision-making across all policy areas. The report was published by E3G, a UK-based not-for-profit company specialising in climate change, with CDKN’s support. E3G’s Senior Policy Advisor, Liz Gallaghar, explains.

Successful climate diplomacy requires governments to have a robust understanding of how climate change is understood to be in a country’s core national interest debate. It also requires effective integration of climate change, as a core national interest, through political and diplomatic channels. At present, with a few notable exceptions in some of the most vulnerable nations, climate change is not seen as a core national interest. Thus the issue is seldom adequately reflected in foreign policy priorities.

The majority of efforts regarding climate diplomacy have, to date, predominately focused on creating a more enabling environment for UNFCCC negotiators, through, for example, technical support and capacity building. There is, however, considerable potential to engage strategically with the broader international climate regime, and involve the wider diplomatic community to help integrate climate change more deeply into the core national interest debate.

Climate diplomacy is a relatively new field. The report Understanding Climate Diplomacy – Building diplomatic capacity and systems to avoid dangerous climate change fills a much needed gap by documenting early practices and lessons learned to inform insightful thought leadership on the discipline. The report has been strongly informed by the experiences of senior diplomats, negotiators and influential actors within the foreign policy and climate community from across the world who joined E3G and CDKN in a workshop entitled “Making climate diplomacy work” in Spring 2013.

The report defines climate diplomacy as encompassing a rich understanding of how to shape the national interest debate, through engaging new constituencies that can leverage change. Climate diplomacy must ensure national priorities are reflected and understood in the often abstract world of international climate change agreements.

The publication outlines the importance of, and options for, accurately assessing other countries’ interests and intentions. The report summarises the evolution of the international climate regime and articulates the reciprocity and interaction between national actions and international agreements. Finally, the publication profiles how countries can make the most effective and strategic use of their interventions.

The publication is aimed at providing practitioners of climate diplomacy, especially those inside government, with a shared analytical and conceptual basis to underpin more effective cooperation between ministries of environment, energy, foreign affairs, trade, economy and finance. The ultimate goal of the publication is to help fully integrate climate change into “whole of government” decision-making and, through this approach, to manage climate risk more successfully.


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