Posts In Category

Environmental Policy

Much has been said about the global environmental, economic and leadership consequences of United States President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement but there is also a national security dimension. Trump’s decision ignores an important development in global security centred on climate change. The US had been in a prime position to link climate to international security which, rightly or wrongly, could be leveraged for foreign policy in pursuit of climate security. The US has been a leader in climate security, an approach rivalling climate justice reasoning in climate politics. For much of the history of international climate politics, there has been a dominant discourse of climate justice. Early environmental conferences focused on planetary justice and …
A Farm in Switzerland (Artur Staszewski)

The proverbial thunderclouds are finally dispersing over the fields and farms of Europe. The protracted negotiations over the European Union’s next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget, which began in 2018, finally concluded in June with a provisional agreement between the EU’s Commission, Council, and Parliament. While the storm is not officially over – Parliament must ratify the deal in the coming autumn – the warring factions have retreated to lick their wounds for the time being, with both environmentalists and small farmers frustrated that the final proposals either did not address their demands or did so in a watered-down fashion. Of particular concern to small farmers’ groups is the mandatory implementation of policies designed to redistribute CAP funds and level …

In early May, the international community held its breath as China’s Long March 5B rocket plummeted uncontrollably back to earth. While the debris landed safely in the Indian Ocean, silencing concerns about a potentially dangerous impact, the increasing frequency of uncontrolled re-entries highlights the importance of state responsibility in safely disposing of space debris. This is not the first time China neglected to dispose properly of its orbital debris. A similar incident occurred this time last year when an out-of-control Chinese rocket–and the largest human-made object ever to return to earth uncontrolled from space–dropped debris on Cote d’Ivoire and in the Atlantic Ocean. While most debris disintegrates upon atmospheric re-entry, some components with higher melting points can persist and penetrate …

In a recently published journal article, we argue that there is a pressing need for a systemisation of the impacts of COVID-19 on water, energy and food security. We also explore the tangible impacts of the pandemic, including negative aspects, like increase in medical waste, and positive aspects, like some improvements in air quality and carbon emissions.  The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to examine the impacts of system-wide crises on key supply sectors, such as water, energy, and food. These sectors are becoming increasingly interlinked in environmental policy-making and with regard to achieving supply security. Now, there is a pressing need for a systematization of impacts and responses beyond the disruptions on individual supply sectors. Specifically, this paper provides …

After the Cold War and the fall of the First Italian Republic, Italy struggled to formulate a coherent foreign policy strategy. Generally, foreign policies at global level during the Cold War era were dictated by the bipolar relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. Italian foreign policy, therefore, was a function of the United States’ sphere of influence and interests, and Italy was often a bridge and interlocutor for the Americans to the Middle East or Eastern Europe. With the collapse of the bipolar system and the disintegration of the major Italian political parties that were the core political actors in the aftermath of World War Two, Italian foreign policy was partially dictated by individual figures and was …

Actors around the world have taken up increasingly ambitious strategies to tackle plastic pollution: public-private partnerships like the Circulate Capital Ocean Fund; European Union strategies like banning commonly used- single-use products; and large international conferences like Our Oceans. Still, plastic waste remains a tangible and prominent environmental issue. Policymakers are wondering if the current spate of solutions will be enough to bring us to mitigate plastic waste effectively. In this article, I will examine how much and what kind of effort would be needed to significantly reduce plastic pollution emissions. I leveraged research from The Plastic Pollution Emissions Working Group (PPEG). The PPEG—a team of scientists, policy wonks, and practitioners working together under a grant from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis …

As the host of the postponed COP26 climate summit, the UK has set out the ambitious goal to convince all countries to commit to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible within their mandatory climate targets. Reducing overall emissions remains the paramount task of global climate governance. However, an overlooked but defining question concerns carbon accounting—the methodology of how national CO2 emissions are assessed. The conventional territory-related production approach, which has traditionally been used in climate governance, stands in contrast to an often ignored consumption-based approach, which more closely captures emissions embodied in the domestic end-use of energy and goods. This article lays out why the seemingly dull and technical matter of carbon accounting has the potential to become the future stepping-stone for a global consensus on …

In 2020, lockdowns around the world have reduced energy use and carbon emissions on an unprecedented scale. However, the current COVID-19 outbreak may be a double-edged sword in the fight against climate change.  Individual countries are imminently due to report their carbon reductions, as outlined in the United Nations-brokered Paris Agreement. Although pre-Coronavirus crisis global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected have grown by 1.9%, recent CO₂ calculations in Europe are predicting a surprising scenario: countries may actually hit their stated reduction goals. For instance, the German climate target for 2020, which until February was considered unattainable, should now be met. Due to this year’s mild winter, and, above all, the Coronavirus crisis, the target of 40% CO₂ savings—unlike climate change targets …
Map showing Ethiopia and its neighbors with red pushpin over Addis Ababa

As the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) nears completion, the Nile River Basin is at a crossroads. The next few months will be consequential for relations between countries in the river basin—notably Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt—because dam management upstream could have consequences for the supply of water downstream. Although the three countries began discussions after the project was announced in 2011, they have yet to reach an agreement on how the new reservoir should be filled and managed. Despite the absence of an agreement, Ethiopia intends to begin filling the reservoir this July. This article describes the competing perspectives between countries, explains reasons for the lack of an agreement, and provides recommendations for addressing the challenges of the GERD. If …