Main page content

Geopolitics of Climate Change

Throughout recent history, governments have competed with each other to secure access to mineral resources, especially oil and gas. Energy trading relationships have considerably shaped international cooperation, as well as foreign and security policies. Since many of the world’s oil and gas reserves are located in fragile or politically unstable places, and are often at the center of countries' economies, the drive to substitute these for cleaner energy sources comes with geopolitical risks. Understanding these risks is an important step for a fair and peaceful transition away from fossil fuels.


To achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, virtually all countries around the world have to remove carbon and other GHGs from their energy systems and broader economies. This will affect patterns in resource demand in the future, which presents a significant risk for certain countries and an opportunity for others. For example, oil-exporting economies will have to deal with stranded assets, while mineral-exporting countries might benefit from a green transition. Another area where conflict risks need to be mitigated is the mushrooming extraction of raw materials.

Both the increased extraction of fossil fuels, minerals and other resources as well as shifting global demand patterns have wide-ranging consequences, including pollution, social disputes, and even conflict. Nations, corporations, and financial markets need to plan now to mitigate the risks posed to all countries by the energy transition away from fossil fuels. It is an international priority to enforce international and national regulations that protect the environment, and eventually transform the way we produce and consume goods and services. Countries with fewer resources to develop in a carbon-neutral way must receive special attention and support. Climate diplomacy offers a range of tools and entry points to achieve this.

Decarbonisation – Highlights

Geopolitics of Decarbonisation: Reshaping European Foreign Relations

Under the Paris Agreement, governments have committed to radically cutting carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. This decarbonisation process has profound implications for both domestic and foreign policy, and is likely to have important geopolitical consequences.

BRI Kazakhstan_Mistra

The Belt and Road Initiative - The case of Kazakhstan

BRI Kazakhstan_Mistra

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a prime example of how decarbonisation processes interact with geopolitics. The successful implementation of the Paris Agreement depends on the emissions trajectories of the BRI partner countries and the infrastructure choices they make today.

Q&A and PODCAST on the Belt and Road Initiative

In these two interviews – a Q&A article and a podcast – adelphi’s Daria Ivleva sheds light on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and its implications for EU-China relations and global climate action, with a focus on the BRI’s investments in Kazakhstan.

Foreign Policy – Highlights


21st Century Diplomacy: Foreign Policy Is Climate Policy


For too long, foreign policymakers have largely left climate issues to energy or environment ministries. New series by adelphi and the Wilson Center brings essays, interviews, and op-eds on some of the major climate and foreign policy issues facing the world today.

\\\Projekte\LA\US\US 065 AA Climate Diplomacy 2015-2016\Konzept & Planung\3-Instrumente\03_Informationsplattform\Fotos ECC\Publications\Mining and Climate Change Climate Diplomacy publication.png

Climate Change and Mining. A Foreign Policy Perspective

\\\Projekte\LA\US\US 065 AA Climate Diplomacy 2015-2016\Konzept & Planung\3-Instrumente\03_Informationsplattform\Fotos ECC\Publications\Mining and Climate Change Climate Diplomacy publication.png

The growing number and impact of extreme weather events has led to increasing awareness in the extractives industries of the potential negative impacts of climate change. The industry has started thinking about its own vulnerabilities, however, there has been little research and debate around this issue.