Peace and security


Helsinki Conference: If climate change is safe, how safe are we?

It is getting hotter. We are 1° Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures and rising. The climate affects us all. It’s not about hot summer days, it’s about our safety. Among other things, this was discussed this week at the Inter-Parliamentary Conference (IPC) in Helsinki. Representatives of the national parliaments and the European Parliament met to exchange views on our common foreign, security and defence policy. As a member of the Foreign and Defence Committee of the European Parliament, I was also present.

Host Finland also focused on the interplay between climate change and security. When we talk about climate change, we often do not immediately think of security. The link has long been explored: how conflicts are caused by climate-related factors – mainly heat and water and food shortages. Such conflicts are already taking place in the Middle East. In many regions of Africa, desertification leads to distributional conflicts. People are fleeing from these regions, including to Europe. But the situation concerns us above all because we in Europe and the USA emit the most CO2 and that is the reason for the suffering elsewhere. So, we should deal with these conflicts now and at the same time find ways to minimise our CO2 emissions in Europe.

It was nice to see that both national delegations and EU representatives met in Helsinki. Especially in foreign policy, the EU and member states must work closely together to find a common European line. Unfortunately, again very few women were present. Also, the German Bundestag sent an exclusively male delegation.

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There is still a long way to go on the road to equality for women in foreign and security policy. How can we take this forward? We met spontaneously for breakfast on Friday at my initiative. Over the next few weeks we will be drawing up recommendations for the next conferences, so that more women can participate and the issue of the role of women in security policy and practice will play a greater role.

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