Climate Change and Foreign Policy: An exploration of options for greater integration

By Deborah Murphy, Aaron Cosbey, Jo-Ellen Parry, John Drexhage, Oli Brown, Peter Dickey, John Van Ham, Richard Tarasofsky, Beverley Darkin on March 8, 2007

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of this century. Increasing evidence of the impacts of climate change and that human actions are contributing to changes in climate highlights the need for action. There is an increasing realization in the international community that achieving the consensus and commitment needed to take action requires positioning climate change in a broader foreign policy context.

The ostensible goal of Western foreign policy is to provide stability and security as a foundation for human well-being, global freedom and prosperity. However, in today's increasingly inter-connected world, the traditional instruments of diplomacy are not always effective in tackling global threats. Established alliances and procedures are hard-pressed to be effective against a threat such as climate change, when the cause (greenhouse gas emissions) is not the ambition of any one "hostile" power. Addressing the climate change challenge requires new thinking in foreign policy—thinking that considers engagement on climate change not only in the sphere of environment, but also outside the environment box.

This study examines opportunities for a broader framing of the climate change issue in a number of foreign policy areas of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark: diplomacy and international relations; energy security; peace and security; trade and investment; and development cooperation.

Co-authored by IISD's John Drexhage, Deborah Murphy, Oli Brown, Aaron Cosbey, Peter Dickey, Jo-Ellen Parry and John Van Ham; and Richard Tarasofsky and Beverley Darkin of Chatham House.

Publication details

IISD, 2007