The European Union climate diplomacy: Evolving practices in a changing geopolitical context


In this journal article, Niklas Bremberg from Stockholm University and Anna Michalski from Uppsala University examine how European Union climate diplomacy is adapting to an increasingly complex international context.  This evolution is traced through a set of key diplomatic practices – narration, coordination, outreach and mainstreaming.   They conclude that the EU has, through these practices, adopted a more universal and joined up diplomatic approach.

The article is published in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy.

Photo: Dušan Cvetanović / Pixabay.

The European Union’s evolving role.

The European Union (EU) has systematically promoted global climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Since the 1990s, despite varying success in international climate negotiations, it has sought to take a leadership role in global climate politics. Internal consolidation of environmental and climate policies has enhanced EU policy coherence and strengthened its ability to influence international efforts to mitigate climate change. Globally, however, the picture is marred by geopolitical competition, rendering the context of global climate politics less propitious for the EU’s climate leadership. This article examines how the EU’s climate diplomacy is adapting to an increasingly complex international context. It finds that while the EU climate action is still premised on the deep-seated beliefs of the EU’s ambitious approach to climate, the practices of EU climate diplomacy have adapted to a changing geopolitical context. This evolution is traced through a set of key diplomatic practices: narration, co-ordination, outreach and mainstreaming.


  • The humiliation of being sidelined during the final stages of COP 15 provided a catalyst for change, forcing the EU to adapt to a more complex and demanding geopolitical context
  • EU diplomats and officials have retained deep seated beliefs about the role the EU should play on the global stage
  • whilst the EU has opted to maintain the logic of its climate diplomacy it has adapted it’s practices to adjust to the geopolitical context
  • By means of the practices of narration, coordination, outreach and mainstreaming the EU seeks to convince other actors of the need to adopt ambitious climate objectives and policies
  • A more joined up and universal approach to climate diplomacy has made EU climate action more efficient across different issue areas
  • The joined up approach also explains the EU’s persistent stress on the link between climate change and security


Bremberg, N., & Michalski, A. (2024). The European Union Climate Diplomacy: Evolving Practices in a Changing Geopolitical Context. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy (published online ahead of print 2024).

Climate Security and its Challenges

Watch a panel discussion “Expertise and Knowledge Gaps” with Niklas Bremberg as part of the “Climate Security and its Challenges” conference, organized by the Centre FrancoPaix of the Raoul Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and the Climate Security Association of Canada.


Authors of this publication

Anna Michalski , Niklas Bremberg ,