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EU Bolsters Climate Diplomacy in Face of Possible U.S. Paris Exit

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/ Wikimedia Commons

Last week’s visit to Ottawa by European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete was part of a wider diplomatic push to bolster the Paris agreement, echoing the EU diplomatic surge the preceded the 2015 conference that concluded that landmark global climate deal.

As several reports described a Trump White House fiercely divided over whether to withdraw from the Paris accord, EU foreign ministers say they will step up their support for the 2015 agreement. The EU joins an increasingly crowded field of candidates for the mantle of global climate leadership the United States appears ready to cast off.

“European foreign ministers agreed to raise climate risk awareness among partners and aid developing countries in gaining access to sustainable energy,” Reuters reports via CNBC. The European ministers nodded—diplomatically—to “the latest developments and changing geopolitical landscape” that had prompted them to “reinvigorate EU climate diplomacy.”

“We are positioning our diplomats in the EU delegations and embassies to do an aggressive outreach so that the Paris agreement be implemented and saved,” the agency quoted an EU official as saying.

The assertive statement follows EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete’s visit to Canada last week. While here, he urged this country to help Europe fill “a vacuum of leadership in climate change policy.” The EU commissioner will also take his message to Iran, India, and China.

China, in particular, is well positioned to seize the opportunity provided by America’s political distraction with the competence and legitimacy of its own president. China was swift to assert its global climate leadership after Trump gained his narrow Electoral College win. Second-term President Xi Jinping is believed to see climate action as part of his political legacy. And the country’s world-leading investments in renewable infrastructure back up the perception.