Trade is a key lens to observe the dynamics associated with geopolitics of decarbonisation. For the European Union (EU) in particular, trade is a central element of its external action and decarbonisation agendas. Based on existing literature, this paper scopes the links of geopolitics and decarbonisation in the area of trade, provides illustrative examples, and reflects upon the implications for EU policy makers.
We suggest to structure the ways in which geopolitics of decarbonisation affects trade along three dimensions. In an analogy to chess, geopolitics of decarbonisation shapes 1) the chess pieces (i.e. the substance of trade), 2) the rules of how to move the pieces across the board (i.e. institutions governing trade) as well as 3) the way the pieces get in motion (transportation that makes trade possible). Overall, we can expect the “trade game” to change profoundly as geopolitics of decarbonisation unfolds.
Among the challenges this has in store for decision-makers are planning for an uncertain future, finding the right balance of priorities and achieving policy coherence. Therefore, the paper highlights selected entry points for EU policy makers to improve the analysis and to advance policy responses, in order to prepare for a changing “trade game”.