Cooperation, not conflict
Kooperation statt Konflikt
The international community’s performance at this year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro was disappointing and the outcomes were lacklustre. At the UN climate negotiations, too, countries are still failing to commit to the ambitious action that is needed to achieve compliance with the 2 °C limit. This inaction, which has a number of causes, and the continued adherence to a “business as usual” approach, especially by the influential countries, are awakening fears that confrontation, not cooperation, could increasingly prevail – not only in relation to the ever more urgent issue of access to energy and raw materials, but also in diplomacy on climate change and food security. Despite ongoing climate change, water scarcity and increasing world food insecurity, can the multilateral system master this challenge on the basis of partnership? Or will the modern concept of security, defined as international stability, take a retrograde step towards individual-state security? That could happen if we fail to utilise the current momentum to expand diplomacy and cooperation between countries.
The European Union, which has just been announced as the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize also in recognition of its tireless commitment to peace and multilateralism, has a particular responsibility in this context. It should enter into pioneer alliances with the regions and countries worst affected by climate change, and with leaders in this field and particularly relevant countries. Besides the small island states and the group of least developed countries, these include the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), China and India, but also South Africa.
Cooperation between the EU, China and India could generate fresh momentum for practical climate action and the transformation of energy systems, both within the countries concerned and in the UN climate process. The US’s incapacity to move forward in the international climate process seems set to continue for many more years. Compared with only a few years ago, however, more and more stakeholders in China and India are willing to talk about the issue and enter into cooperation with the EU. The potential cooperation between the EU, China and India on a sustainable energy supply could facilitate the attainment of three goals: firstly, bilateral and trilateral activities could promote energy efficiency and support the expansion of renewable energy systems and emissions trading schemes. Secondly, it could generate fresh momentum in the UN climate negotiations. And thirdly, the countries could work together to define sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the post-Rio period.