European and Global Climate Policy

© Mark Garten, UN Photo

Climate change is seen by many countries and non-state actors as one of the central global challenges of the 21st century. Climate policy seeks both to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to limit the magnitude of climate change (mitigation) and to initiate measures for coping with the consequences (adaptation; losses and damages). Moreover, a scientific debate has emerged about the use of technologies to deliberately intervene in parts of the climate system (climate engineering), which broadens the scope of dealing with climate change-related challenges.

In 2015 the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded the Paris Agreement for the period after 2020. For the first time, the new climate agreement attributes the same importance to adaptation as it does to the mitigation of climate change, including climate finance. The rulebook for the treaty was nearly finished in 2018 at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland; some issues remain and await clarification at the next COP. The parties to the Paris Agreement are obliged to pledge nationally determined contributions (NDCs), that is, climate policy targets that show which mitigation action, adaptation measures, and financial contributions or needs they are planning for. Under the treaty, the NDCs will be updated every five years (starting in 2020), and the parties have agreed to progress in their ambitions. Moreover, global climate action will be reviewed every five years in view of the (well below) 2 degrees Celsius target and the 1.5 degrees limit in the global temperature (global stock take, 2023).

The EU has implemented the Paris Agreement by translating its 2030 emissions target into legislation. A new NDC is due in 2020, and the European Commission plans to follow up with more ambitions, in accordance with the “Green Deal.” For the long-term policy target under the Paris Agreement, namely the “balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” (Article 4.1), the European Commission drafted a 2050 climate strategy (“A Clean Planet for all”) already in November 2018. The goal of greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 is guiding the scenarios. The EU-wide emission reduction target for 2030 is supposed to rise from 40 percent (compared to 1990 levels) to 50 percent or more. Furthermore, the Green Deal proposal includes making European climate law the top legislative project, which was initiated in March 2020. The Green Deal agenda is comprehensive, cross-sectoral, and merges EU climate actions with energy governance and economic policies. Given the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Green Deal agenda will have to be adjusted along the concept of a “green stimulus,” mainly through investment priorities for climate-friendly projects.

Germany holds a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2019 and 2020, and it continues the debate on the security policy implications of climate change. Sweden and the Netherlands had led debates on climate change risks in the UNSC in 2018 and 2017, respectively. Under the German UNSC presidency in 2011, a presidential statement was adopted. In 2017, the Lake Chad Resolution named climate change as a driver of violent conflicts in the region. On 25 January 2019, the Dominican Republic held an open debate on the subject, and Germany will raise the issue again in summer 2020. The focus will most likely be the need for preventive global action and better coordination, because a key goal is to increase resilience against food, water, and health crises – all included in the 2030 Agenda – which are seen as drivers of conflict and amplified by climate impacts.


Displaying results 1 to 10 out of 74
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Steve Pye, Oliver Broad, Chris Bataille, Paul Brockway, Hannah Daly, Rachel Freeman, Ajay Gambhir, Oliver Geden, Fionn Rogan, Sapna Sanghvi, Julia Tomei, Inna Vorushylo, Jim Watson

Modelling net-zero emissions energy systems requires a change in approach

in: Climate Policy, Vol. 20, October 2020


Susanne Dröge, Clara Brandi, Axel Berger, Aaron Cosbey, Manfred Elsig, Ilaria Espa, Jean-Frédéric Morin

Trade and Climate Change: A Key Agenda for the G20

in: TF2: Climate Change and Environment, Think20, September 2020
Wilfried Rickels, Alexander Proelß, Oliver Geden, Julian Burhenne, Mathias Fridahl

The Future of (Negative) Emissions Trading in the European Union

Kiel Working Papers 2164, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, September 2020
Holly Buck, Oliver Geden, Masahiro Sugiyama, Olaf Corry

Pandemic politics—lessons for solar geoengineering

In: Communications Earth & Environment, Vol. 1, 16, September 2020
David R. Morrow, Michael S. Thompson, Angela Anderson, Maya Batres, Holly J. Buck, Kate Dooley, Oliver Geden, Arunabha Ghosh, Sean Low, Augustine Njamnsh, John Noel, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Shuchi Talati, Jennifer Wilcox

Principles for Thinking about Carbon Dioxide Removal in Just Climate Policy

in: One Earth, Vol. 3, August 2020, pp. 150-153
Susanne Dröge

The EU’s CO2 Border Adjustment: Climate or Fiscal Policy?

The EU plans to use a CO2 border adjustment on imports to improve its budget. In so doing, it risks eroding the instrument’s credibility as a response to climate change, argues Susanne Dröge.

Point of View, 05.08.2020
Oliver Geden, Felix Schenuit

Unconventional Mitigation

Carbon Dioxide Removal as a New Approach in EU Climate Policy

SWP Research Paper 2020/RP 08, June 2020, 35 Pages


Susanne Dröge

Addressing the Risks of Climate Change

What Role for the UN Security Council?

SWP Research Paper 2020/RP 06, June 2020, 34 Pages


Susanne Dröge, Carolyn Fischer

Carbon Pricing at the Border: Key Questions for the EU

in: ifo DICE Report 18 (1), April 2020, p. 30-34
Rachel Kyte, Oliver Geden, Charlotte Streck, Adil Najam, Gabrielle Dreyfus, Maria Ivanova

Bridging the Science-Policy Divide

in: One Earth, Vol. 2, April 2020, pp. 300-301
Displaying results 1 to 10 out of 74
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SWP Comments

Dominic Vogel
German Armed Forces Approaching Outer Space

The Air and Space Operations Centre As a Gateway to Multi-domain Operations

Sinem Adar, Nicola Bilotta, Aurélien Denizeau, Sinan Ekim, Dorothée Schmid, Günter Seufert, Ilke Toygür, Karol Wasilewski
Customs Union: Old Instrument, New Function in EU-Turkey Relations

SWP Research Papers