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Better governing the global commons: climate, biodiversity, oceans, outer space

Armed forces pledge to reduce their impact on the climate

An initiative launched by 22 Ministers of Defense during the 4th edition of the Paris Peace Forum.

Climate change represents an immense challenge for global security. Food insecurity, the multiplication of extreme weather events, the vulnerability of equipment and infrastructure are likely to cause large-scale social and international unrest. This challenge also affects the armed forces. In 2021, the Paris Peace Forum brought together 22 Ministers of Defense from all continents to discuss the "Climate Change and the Armed Forces" initiative. This roadmap, the foundation for a growing coalition, aims to reduce emissions from armed forces, mitigate damage, and strengthen cooperation between states in the process of adapting armed forces to the impact of climate change.

Joint statement on climate change and the armed forces

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) experts, global warming could reach +1,5°C by 2030. By 2050, and without immediate action, the increase will continue beyond this threshold and the 2°C limit will most likely be reached before the end of the 21st century. In parallel, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for significant political, economic, social and energy shocks. The effects of climate change will amplify such phenomena, threaten the environment and, therefore, human activities. The destruction of natural resources, extreme climate events like cyclones, flooding or rising waters and wildfires, might lead to the displacement of whole populations and will amplify existing threats. Indeed, climate change aggravates pre-existing instability and is now widely considered as a threat multiplier that creates new tensions, rifts and conflicts. Rivalries for access to natural resources are intensifying in some regions, while large production and transit areas are the scene of recurring geopolitical and demographic tensions. The implementation of energy transition policies creates opportunities, but also new dependencies, both in raw materials and industrial know-how.

In this context, the armed forces need to adapt to the changing environment (increasing power struggles around resource issues, new conditions of intervention, new types of missions). We must work together and strengthen our cooperation to play our part in combatting climate change as well as preparing our forces for the impacts of climate change and the energy transition. In parallel, biodiversity conservation is also important and should be considered within the Defense domain.

The armed forces dependence on fossil fuels is still very high. In order to adapt to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and climate change more broadly, our respective strategy and guidance documents need to integrate the Climate and Defense nexus across the Defense mission set, including operations, training, infrastructure and equipment. Simultaneously, we need to find ways to mitigate our impact on the environment, keeping in mind that environmental concerns should be an added value to missions/operations and not an obstacle. To achieve that, we need to consider how our forces can leverage developing low-carbon energy efficient military technologies, materials and equipment is while maintaining a high level of interoperability, and preserving the operational effectiveness and readiness of the forces. We believe, also, that promoting a culture of energy transition, prioritizing energy efficiency and exploring ways to preserving and protecting the environment through innovation and digital technologies, including through the exchange of good practices, is key.

Adaptation and resilience are the two key words that lead our decisions and actions.

To this end, as Defense Ministers, we intend to promote the exchange of information, analysis, experience and good practices, both at the political and military level, in order to enhance our understandings of the security implications of climate change and opportunities to leverage the energy transition for our forces. Although COP-26 further strengthened international climate ambitions, it is also necessary for defense institutions to step up their engagement. In this respect, we will promote action to bring forward this issue in all relevant fora of cooperation and dialogue in the field of defense and security, at the regional and global level, with a paramount focus on not hampering military key capabilities. Suggested joint lines of effort may be found in the attached roadmap.

Energy transition must be an operational asset in the field of defense as well as a privileged axis of cooperation between the States. The need for better international coordination to effectively respond to these new challenges is becoming increasingly obvious.

The next Paris Peace Forum in 2022 will be an opportunity to review the progress of our collective efforts in this area.

The list of co-signatory countries at this stage: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, and the United States.


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