NATO needs to adapt in the wake of climate change

NATO co-hosted a roundtable discussion on 17 February at the Munich Security Conference, which focused on opportunities to support the organisation’s military’s transition to clean energy, through technological innovation, while ensuring military effectiveness in a deteriorated security environment.

The side event ‘Cleaner and Meaner: The Military Energy Transition by Design’ was hosted by the NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division, partnered with the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).

In NATO’s new Strategic Concept, Allies confirmed their ambition for it to become the leading international organisation when it comes to understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on security. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent global energy crisis, together with the consequences of accelerating climate change, have created a new and more complex security environment.

As a result, NATO’s armed forces must adapt to a climate changed future operating environment, increase their energy efficiency and introduce cleaner technologies. All of this, they said, will help to preserve collective defence, operational effectiveness and a credible deterrence posture.

During the event, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges David van Weel, said that NATO needs “to mainstream climate change and energy transition considerations into the entire NATO enterprise, including training, exercising, force planning, and the development and procurement of military capabilities”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine featured heavily at the event. On the 17 February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that, in the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the security environment has fundamentally changed.

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, it will be a tragedy for the Ukrainians but it will also be dangerous for all of us,” Mr Stoltenberg said, adding that this would be “a message to authoritarian leaders all over the world that when they use military force, they achieve their goals. And that will make the world more dangerous and also more vulnerable.”

He also cautioned against making the same mistakes with other regimes and underscored the importance of future investing in security. He stressed that “the most important lesson to be learned is the importance of North America and Europe standing together. There is no security in Europe without NATO. And the only way to preserve peace, to ensure our security is to ensure that North America continues to stand together with Europe.”

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