Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses NATO Photo: U.S. Mission to NATO
Military leaders around the globe increasingly find one of the most challenging “forces” when it comes to upsetting global peace and prosperity is not a military one — it’s climate change. The Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, led the Alliance’s defense ministers earlier this week to make climate change a major focus of strategy and planning, The Washington Post reported. Calling climate change a “crisis-multiplier,” Stoltenberg said he intends to push militaries to be carbon-neutral by 2050. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken stressed that climate change is a global security crisis in his remarks at NATO on Wednesday.
Why This Matters: At last, there is a widespread recognition that Russia and man-made weapons are not the only deadly and destabilizing threats we face. A clear-eyed examination of what is driving instability and danger to global peace cannot ignore the obvious — severe weather, droughts, sea-level rise, fires, and the related shortages of food and water are among the greatest risks and challenges we face. And these factors are complicating the way militaries fight — from vulnerable military installations around the globe to heat extremes stressing troops and weapons systems. Fighting climate change — both reducing carbon emissions by our forces and adapting our military to the new “normal” climate — is smart defense strategy.
U.S. Department of Defense Factoring Climate Change
The Biden administration’s new team at the Defense Department is already elevating climate change in its national security planning. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is has a high-level climate change working group and said the Defense Department will incorporate climate change into military planning and war-gaming, according to The Post, and will include climate change in its updated national defense strategy document that is a blueprint of how it defends our country against the biggest threats to our national security. This is a marked change from the Trump administration, which sought to purge climate change from those plans and its programs. Indeed, President Biden has also spoken of having the Defense Department lead on innovation in energy and transportation, among other sectors. And the Department recognizes that many of its installations are ground zero for climate impacts such as fires, sea-level rise and flooding.
Greening the Military
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made many NATO countries realize the need to decrease their carbon footprint — fuel re-supply trucks are heavy and move slowly, which made them ideal targets for enemy forces. Military forces have tended to be very carbon-dependent, whether as fuel for jet fighters or large ships or even tanks and other tracked vehicles, and there has been little outside pressure on militaries to change because that was seen as potentially impacting readiness. Stoltenberg pointed out the need for militaries to go greener now and to think in terms of fighting in a planet with more extreme and hazardous weather — from challenges operating in the melting Arctic to the 120-degree heat in Iraq. He urged his fellow ministers to do something out of character — “to be radical in the way we think.”
To Go Deeper: We recommend this testimony by Friend of the Planet Sherri Goodman before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Defense — they recently held a hearing on climate change, the Arctic and security. It is worth your time.
By WW0 Staff For the United States, the post-Trump, pre-COP26 road to Glasgow has been paved with ambition and humility. In a major speech, the President’s Envoy, John Kerry, previewed the results of his climate diplomacy before heading into two weeks of intense deliberations of world leaders. Speaking at the London School of Economics — […]
Next week, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will draw hundreds of world leaders to Glasgow to determine the path forward five years after the Paris Climate Agreement (for a primer, read this) as new science underscores the urgency. The conference aims to squeeze countries to strengthen the commitments they’ve made towards securing global net-zero […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In a report released last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that existing risks and security challenges in the US are being made worse due to “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Now, the Pentagon is […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.