Climate Change for Foreign Policy 2

Climate Change for Foreign Policy Part II

4: Late adjustment: Major challenges from the 2030s

The future picture with late restructuring is characterized by a climate policy with a sharp tightening after 2030, at the same time as the damaging effects of climate change are gradually becoming large. Here, too, the consequences of climate policy will be significant, but they will be “delayed” – from 2030 – at the same time as climate change will have major consequences. We consider this to be the most likely future picture.

More of our values ​​in petroleum resources will be collected and used, or placed in the Petroleum Fund. If we only look at the consequences of climate policy , the situation in this future picture is more favorable for Norway because we have time to make more money. But in this future picture, warming will pass 1.5 degrees in 2030 and 2 degrees in 2050. Then we will also be challenged by the consequences of climate change in other parts of the world.

Especially the warmest and poorest parts of Africa and the Middle East are exposed to increased drought and extreme weather. Although migration decisions are influenced by a number of factors, it is overwhelmingly likely that climate change will contribute to a marked increase in migration. In 2015, less than one million refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa and the Middle East. It created a political crisis for the EU. A future with far more climate refugees can therefore have major consequences for stability and international cooperation.

A much larger share of the development assistance funds will also have to be used for emergency aid. The long-term development assistance and the efforts to achieve the sustainability goals will probably have to give way to a permanent stream of acute crises.

Norway has a strong reputation as an international benefactor in peace and reconciliation processes, disarmament and international climate finance. Nevertheless, Norway, perhaps more than any other western country, is vulnerable in an international hunt for climate scapegoats: In an international survey from 2019 , the majority of those surveyed in more than half of the countries – from France and Sweden in the north, to Kenya, Mexico and Australia in the south – that climate is the biggest threat to their country. Such a development weakens Norway’s reputation as an international benefactor, and increases the likelihood that countries and groups bearing the consequences of climate change will sue and demand compensation from the Norwegian state and Norwegian-owned companies.

5: No adjustment: The mainstays of the international order are failing

The future picture with no change gives us dramatic climate change. Global warming continues here rapidly towards 3-4 degrees until the year 2100, either as a result of weak climate policy and / or self-reinforcing processes in the climate system that contribute to faster warming than previously thought.

Extreme droughts will not only affect large parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, but will also affect parts of the United States, Eastern Europe and Russia. Cyclones, floods, heat waves and forest fires force millions of people to flee each year. Poverty, hunger and conflict are increasing significantly because in large parts of the world there is a permanent shortage of fresh water and food.

Institutions such as the UN will be further overburdened by tasks such as emergency aid and by challenges related to migratory flows. EU-NATO cohesion will be put to the test, and much of the global economic growth will have to be used to deal with the consequences of climate change. In this picture of the future, global capitalism and extensive international cooperation cannot be taken for granted either.

Large areas of land will become almost uninhabitable and hundreds of millions of people will have to move, either internally or to other countries. Some island states in the Pacific Ocean will disappear as a result of rising sea levels. The result is that control over one’s own territory is challenged by physical climate change rather than by military invasions. In this way, the principle of state sovereignty is challenged , not because one state attacks another, but because increased temperature and extreme weather destroy a state’s territory.

Norway will be among the countries in the world that are best suited to deal with consequences such as floods, rising sea levels and heat waves. But we are not protected against the indirect consequences. Norway – a small, rich country with an open economy – has a lot to lose in a world with more isolationism, high migration, major conflicts, less trade and fewer rules. In the chaos that may arise, the right of the strongest will prevail.

6: Consequences for Norwegian foreign policy

According to, Norwegian interests are affected in all three future images . The uncertainty is thus not related to whether the climate crisis will affect Norwegian foreign policy, but how it will do so. In any case, the room for maneuver in foreign policy will be smaller:

  • In the future picture with rapid change, the room for maneuver decreases because we want less resources at our disposal, and must quickly go through a demanding domestic political change, away from oil and gas.
  • During a late adjustment, it happens through a combination of weakened reputation and demands to help deal with the consequences of climate change in other countries.
  • With no change, the effect is even stronger because the consequences of climate change are greater, at the same time as established rules of the game will be challenged.

There is already a high degree of uncertainty in international politics. This uncertainty is exacerbated by climate change because we do not have an overview of how the climate, climate policy and the consequences will develop. At the same time, Norway is more dependent on close allies than before to implement international measures in a number of fields, such as disarmament , trade and conflict prevention. Climate change is also exacerbating dependence since it must be tackled together, while challenging the current international system. Therefore, climate change and other countries’ climate policies are of crucial importance for the entire foreign policy. And therefore climate should also be understood as something more fundamental and more important than what we have been used to.

It is difficult to say exactly how the climate will affect foreign policy choices. Should Norway cooperate more closely with China, which has stronger vested interests in phasing out fossil fuels, than the exporting country the USA? Should development policy be shifted to climate-friendly growth, rather than poverty reduction and health? And not least: Sales of gas to Europe will remain very important for Norway. At the same time, it is not in Norway’s long-term interest to become a «climate sink». It will contribute to climate change that threatens Norwegian interests, damages our reputation and makes us miss out on new opportunities in e.g. hydropower and floating wind turbines at sea.

Germany, our most important ally in the EU, has now made the fight against climate change an indispensable condition in foreign policy. It will cost Norway to go out of step with the largest countries in Europe. We must therefore balance short and long term, economy and climate, gas and renewable energy. Not least, there must be new thinking about priorities, competence, and new measures that can make foreign policy equipped for a warmer world.

Climate Change for Foreign Policy 2

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