CHICAGO (Project Syndicate)— The deliberations at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) suggest that while policy makers realize the urgency of combating climate change, they are unlikely to reach a comprehensive collective agreement to address it. But there is still a way for the world to improve the chances of more effective action in the future: hit the brakes on deglobalization. Otherwise, the possibilities for climate action will be set back by the shrinkage of cross-border trade and investment flows, and by the accompanying rise of increasingly isolated regional trading blocs.
“ Even if countries have a legitimate security interest in restricting trade and investment in strategic and sensitive sectors, we must prevent these policies from degenerating into isolationism. ”
Three major challenges Deglobalization is being accelerated through a combination of old-fashioned protectionism, newfangled “friend-shoring” (limiting trade to countries with shared values), and geo-strategically motivated bans and sanctions. To see why this trend will frustrate global responses to climate change, consider the three categories of climate action: mitigation (emissions reduction), adaptation, and migration to better conditions. The sequence here is important, because the challenges implied by each category will become more difficult if less is done in the category preceding it. If we do too little on mitigation, we will need more adaptation, and if we do too little on adaptation, we will see more climate refugees fleeing their increasingly uninhabitable homelands.
Negotiators at the COP27 conference agreed to set up a fund to compensate poorer nations worst-hit by climate change. The historic deal concluded the U.N. climate summit, while broader commitments to cut CO2 emissions remain under negotiation. Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images