The 2015 Paris Agreement charts the course for climate policy action up to the end of the century. Having committed to the goal of limiting warming to well below 2°C or even 1.5°C, many countries are now implementing measures to decarbonise their economies. Crucial to these efforts will be the long-term transition away from fossil fuels to a more sustainable, low-carbon energy supply.
By presenting its long-term vision in 2018, the European Commission has outlined how to realise a carbon-neutral Europe by the middle of the century, although the EU has not officially adopted the target. In order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in time to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, it is necessary to make deep, structural changes to existing economic development patterns. Given countries’ varying natural resources, political settlements and levels of development, the transition is likely to take a different trajectory in each country. Based on the findings from the report “The geopolitics of decarbonisation” this policy brief focuses on six fossil-fuel exporting countries where fossil fuels have played an important role in external relations with the EU and analyses how they may be affected by the decarbonisation of Europe.
The case studies – on Azerbaijan, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Qatar – revealed a variety of ways in which fossil fuel exporters or, more generally, carbon-dependent economies may be vulnerable to the global transition away from coal, oil, natural gas and other emission-intensive products for which demand is expected to fall during decarbonisation. Furthermore, the authors identified several challenges and opportunities that the foreign policy community should take into consideration when striving to make EU external relations cohere with the European Green Deal, which was announced by Ursula von der Leyen in her new role as president of the Commission.
An increasing number of scholars and analysts point out that the necessary decarbonisation of the global economy will impact international affairs and geopolitics. But do we agree on what geopolitics of decarbonisation is (not)? This paper draws on the literature on both geopolitics and decarbonisation to help structure the discussion and identify pertinent questions about future trends.