14 June 2021

NATO Leaders Reaffirm Importance of Climate Security at Key Summit

At the NATO summit today in Brussels leaders set out the future of the alliance which includes over half of the world’s military might and almost 1 billion people. Leaders approved the NATO 2030 agenda which, among other things, sets NATO on a path to adapt to climate change and bolster climate security.

Acknowledging that climate change is one of the “defining challenges” of our times and characterising climate change as a threat multiplier, leaders agreed to “significantly” reduce greenhouse emissions insofar as it did not impact operational effectiveness. Alongside this, they called for the Secretary General to create a plan to reduce emissions which also assesses the feasibility of NATO reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As a part of this NATO will create a mapping system for tracking the national defence emissions of NATO countries which could result in voluntary emission reduction targets. These measures will go alongside a wider mainstreaming of climate considerations into NATO’s work, including annual assessments of the effect of climate change on the strategic environment, as well as considering climate change within things like defence planning.

Although these measures represent a step forward in some regards, some climate experts and policy makers are likely disappointed by the lack of clear commitments from NATO leaders, much as they were at the recent G7 summit. Indeed, the stringent requirement for all emissions reductions being contingent on militaries retaining their full operational effectiveness makes it difficult to imagine how NATO militaries will meet the net zero by 2050 goal. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen how ambitious the Secretary General's plan will be.

July 14th NATO Summit Communique

NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan

Photo Credit NATO/ Flickr