In a globalised world, the effects of climate change are likely to cascade across borders. Climate impacts in one location may have far reaching consequences in other places by affecting trade, migration, investments, and foreign policy objectives.
Whether such cascading effects are likely to materialise depends in turn on a number of social, economic, and political factors that reinforce or attenuate the effects of climate change on economic development, migration, political stability, etc. These moderating conditions are crucial when considering possible challenges in connection with climate change, and opportunities for addressing them.
In this report, we discuss the possible effects of climate change on issues at the core of European foreign, security, and development policy – namely, the impacts of climate change on livelihoods, food security, migration, and political stability in regions with close ties to Europe, where those impacts may affect European foreign policy objectives in a significant way.
Across regions, we identify a number of challenges and opportunities in different scenarios, which assume either more or less favourable moderating conditions (i.e., with regard to technology and physical infrastructure; resource and conflict management; economic opportunities; trade and access to markets; governance and state-citizen relations; and social and diplomatic relations).
Despite important challenges and mounting climatic pressures in all considered regions, our results leave some room for optimism. Depending on their ability to build strong and inclusive institutions, promote sustainable development, and strengthen social and diplomatic ties, affected countries and their partners might be able to reduce the risk of adverse cascading effects in connection with a warming world.
Climate change will become increasingly challenging in the coming years, yet its effects are ultimately determined by social, economic, and political factors. Studying what makes societies susceptible to be adversely affected by climate change and how such conditions evolve over time then gives an indication of where to direct adaptation efforts. The moderating conditions presented in this report offer as many “levers” for preparing against the adverse effects of climate change.