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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, and Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the German centre-right think tank, have today published a new essay collection entitled Fast track? European climate diplomacy after COP26, which includes contributions from 10 prominent and expert UK politicians, Members of the European Parliament, academics, and thought leaders.

Fast track? follows the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year, and addresses three key areas of European climate diplomacy that the UK and the EU must cooperate on, despite the UK’s departure from the bloc: security, migration, and innovation. It continues the conversation among European friends and allies about how best to work together to decarbonise and achieve net zero in the crucial decades ahead.

In his essay, Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said:

“Many refer to climate change as a necessary area of cooperation with China that should be siloed off from the confrontation over human rights and competition between strategic rivals. But, as things stand, the response to climate change is hard to detach from questions about political differences and strategic dependence …

“In this new era of mass adoption of renewable technologies, the road to net zero will become increasingly inseparable from questions about the resilience of supply chains, human rights and strategic rivalry.

“We need a new approach. Perhaps a better way to think about geopolitics and climate change might be constructive competition. What might it look like if governments were to frame climate change as a race to capitalise on soaring demand for low-carbon industries, part of a competition for the prize of global climate leadership?”

In his essay, The Rt Hon Damian Green MP, former First Secretary of State, said:

“However we measure it, a cut in this part of the aid budget will not help us address climate change and associated migration. Also, it seems inconsistent to be paying extra for energy domestically because of green levies if at the same time we are not encouraging the rest of the world to fight climate change as well.

“Of course other parts of the aid budget contribute more generally to long-term economic growth in poorer countries, which is another way of alleviating the pressure to emigrate to the richer Global North.

“Another policy area which requires constant attention is the diplomatic element in controlling migration flows. For the UK this means better relations with France, and I have sympathy with our Government given the current French stance on a number of issues. But those cross-channel issues will in the end be solved better in France, or further south, rather than in mid-Channel or when the asylum seekers reach the UK. So gritted teeth and a determination to work with the French are needed.”

In his essay, Lukas Mandl MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Security and Defence and a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said:

“While climate change in itself might not be a direct cause of conflict and nation state insecurity, it can be considered as a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing insecurities. Aside from the security implications it causes, climate change may produce secondary effects such as weakened governments, political instability and conflict. This has a particularly strong implication for so-called ‘failed states’. Such states are those whose capabilities to adapt to climate change are limited, thus making them extremely vulnerable.”

The essay collection includes contributions from Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Lukas Mandl MEP, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Security and Defence and a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Sam Hall, Director of the Conservative Environment Network; Georgios Kyrtsos MEP, Member of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee; The Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Minister for Immigration from 2010-2012 and former First Secretary of State from 2016-2017; Tomas Tobé MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development; Tim Loughton MP, Member of the Home Affairs Committee; Dr Ayesha Siddiqi, Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge; Michael Stephens, Senior Associate and Policy Lead at Globesight and Associate Fellow at Bright Blue; and Radan Kanev MEP, a Bulgarian Member of the European Parliament.

The views expressed by particular individuals are not necessarily supported by other contributors to the essay collection.

Ryan Shorthouse, Chief Executive at Bright Blue, commented:

“As the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows, when faced with threats to global security and order, the continent of Europe – including those inside and outside of the EU – do and can come together.

Climate change is the biggest challenge this continent faces this century. COP26 was yet another milestone in demonstrating European support for and leadership on decarbonisation. But there is much more to do to enable a fair and realistic transition to a net zero world.”

Matthias Barner, Director at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, commented:

“Climate change has no respect for national boundaries, and no country can hope to counteract its worst effects on its own. The UK and EU are two of the most credible actors when it comes to climate action and have the capacity to lead and bring others onboard.”