This is E3G’s written submission to the UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on environmental diplomacy. This was written in May 2020; accordingly, some arguments and evidence may be out of date.
- The role of the FCO’s environmental diplomacy is to create the geopolitical conditions that can build the ecological foundations needed for the UK’s security and prosperity.
- The FCO should clearly articulate the UK’s priority objectives for environmental protection internationally and mainstream these across all of its international engagement. To be effective, the FCO’s environmental diplomacy must be actively led by the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and supported by a ‘Team UK’ approach that delivers a cross-Whitehall effort to advance global environmental objectives.
- If the UK is unable to ‘walk the talk’ on environmental policy the FCO will have no authority to influence international partners. The FCO must play a more active role in the development of domestic policy to ensure it is not undermining environmental diplomacy. An economic recovery to the COVID-19 crisis that drives action on climate change will be essential both for the success of COP26 and for any credible environmental diplomacy strategy. The UK should use its diplomatic levers to drive analogous approaches across the major economies.
- COVID-19 has disrupted the geopolitical landscape and will dominate international politics for at least the next 18 months. A window is open for the UK’s environmental diplomacy to influence significant global capital allocation and geopolitical dynamics that will set the path of environmental action for the next decade.
- To make COP26 a success, it is critical for the FCO to: maximise the benefits of the UK’s COP26 Presidency, Chair of the G7 and Italy’s Chair of the G20 in order to weave a “golden thread” of climate action through 2021; revitalise cooperation and multilateralism by improving global resilience through environmental, development and economic diplomacy; and work with allies to construct a clear narrative that links COP26 to the positive impact that climate action offers in terms accelerating the global economic recovery.