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NATO Allies Demand Ambitious Response to Climate Risks

GULF OF ADEN (Sept. 17, 2012) Sailors assigned to the visit, board, search, and seizure team from the guided-missile frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40), provide water to fisherman in the Gulf of Aden. Halyburton is deployed with Commander, NATO Task Force 508 supporting Operation Ocean Shield, maritime interception operations and counter-piracy missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Raegen/Released)

Sailors assigned to the visit, board, search, and seizure team from the guided-missile frigate USS Halyburton, provide water to fisherman in the Gulf of Aden. Halyburton is deployed with Commander, NATO Task Force 508 supporting Operation Ocean Shield.(photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Raegen/Released)

On October 12th, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA), a group of lawmakers from NATO member states, passed a resolution urging Alliance members to more fully recognize climate risks and increase their foreign and national security policy responses. According to the NATO PA press release, this is the most recent step in a series of actions NATO has taken to better prepare for and respond to the security risks associated with climate change. From the release:

Climate change has been rising on the NATO agenda. As Allies observed in the 2010 Strategic Concept and reaffirmed at the 2014 NATO summit, climate change has the power to shape the Euro-Atlantic security environment, with “the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations.” Building on this momentum, the Allied lawmakers are now calling on NATO to take the next step and “increase the frequency of military and political consultations on climate change within NATO.”

The resolution, Resolution 427 on Climate Change and International Security, includes a series of statements and recommendations. The below are particularly interesting in terms of potential impact on NATO as a whole, and the policies of each member state:

The Assembly,…

6. Fully convinced that climate change-related risks will affect international security through increased natural disasters; stress on economic, food and water security; risks to public health; internal and external migration; and resource competition;

7. Acknowledging that climate change-related risks are significant threat multipliers that will shape the security environment in areas of concern to the Alliance and have the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations;

8. Recognizing the need to supplement climate action with efforts to strengthen the resilience of states and societies at risk through adaption measures, development and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding and conflict prevention programmes;

9. Welcoming NATO’s Green Defence Framework and Smart Energy Efforts;

10. URGES member governments of the North Atlantic Alliance:

d. to fully recognize climate change-related risks as significant threat multipliers in their foreign and security policies;

e. to subsequently increase the frequency of military and political consultations on climate change within NATO, including at NATO summits;

f. to examine how NATO’s co-operative security efforts can take into account climate change-related risks, especially with NATO partners that are particularly vulnerable and exposed to climate change;

g. to fully support and enhance NATO’s Green Defence Framework and Smart Energy efforts.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg responded to the Resolution during the Plenary Sitting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly:

Climate change is recognized in our strategic concept as one of the challenges security challenges we are facing. It can cause conflicts; it can increase the number of refugees. Climate change is something that is relevant to NATO.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti RN, (Ret.), former Climate and Energy Security Envoy of the UK Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, added:

Foremost, [alliance members] must ensure that their respective national security strategies reflect, along with more traditional threats, the impact of a changing climate, for failure to do so must result in an incomplete and flawed strategy. Then they must act on their analysis, including working with those NATO partners who are most vulnerable and exposed to climate change.

At the same time, members of the alliance should work to reduce the long term risks… Failure to act will likely result in a more unstable world, one that will require NATO forces to be deployed, not just in a humanitarian role but also conflict prevention and, ultimately, conflict resolution.

We agree. See our Op-Ed with Sherri Goodman for more: NATO Ignores Climate Change At Its Peril.


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