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NATO adopts climate security action plan for the first time

15 June 2021 Amena Saiyid

Terming global climate impacts a "crisis multiplier," the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 14 June adopted a plan for the first time in its history that protects its troops and military installations, along with its territories, against global warming impacts such as flooding and drought.

NATO also plans to work with its members towards a net-zero carbon goal for its troops and installations by 2050.

In the opening speech at the 2021 NATO Summit in Brussels, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the NATO Action Plan on Climate Change and Security will prepare the organization to be resilient, and to adapt and operate in what he called "an unpredictable world" where the threats to all of its allies, close to 1 billion people, have changed.

"Climate change is a crisis multiplier" that will lead to conflict over scarce resources like water and land, forcing millions of people to migrate, Stoltenberg said. "So, therefore it matters for our security, and therefore it also matters for NATO."

Stoltenberg first gave a preview of NATO's climate plan at the Leaders Summit on Climate in April, where he discussed the threats posed by global warming with top defense officials from the US, UK, Spain, Iraq, and Kenya.

NATO's plan calls for an alliance-wide annual assessment of its assets and installations, prioritizing sustainable technologies in its purchases of fuel and equipment, and outlines how the militaries of its members must learn to adapt and operate under all extreme climate-fueled weather conditions.

The organization also will develop methodologies for assessing GHG emissions from its military activities. At the same time, the climate plan said NATO will protect its military installations across the globe from the threat that a rise in sea levels poses and its troops from extreme heat caused by desertification.

"So, climate change will directly affect how we develop equipment, how we do exercises, our military planning, and all that," Stoltenberg added.

A recent report by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the physical effects of climate change are likely to intensify during the next two decades, especially in the 2030s, with more droughts, storms, an increase in sea levels, and melting of the Arctic ice caps.

In a 14 June news conference, US President Joe Biden, who has made tackling the climate crisis a priority, said he is especially pleased with NATO's adoption of the action plan, "which several years ago people thought we would never do."

Posted 15 June 2021 by Amena Saiyid, Senior Climate & Energy Research Analyst, IHS Markit

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