On August 29, EU defense ministers met to discuss “the effect of climate change on defence and security,” as part of a two-day meeting covering a range of critical security issues. The meeting, hosted in Helsinki by Finland, who currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, was chaired by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. In her remarks following the meeting, Mogherini had this to say about the robust climate and defense conversation that occurred.
This morning we discussed two other issues that are particularly important from a strategic point of view for the European Union and that are also in nature global issues that require global and European responses. First of all, the issue of climate change. I think the European Union has been among the first to identify climate change as a security threat, a security challenge, as a security threat multiplier. And we have gone through the different connections – direct and indirect links – between climate change and defence and security issues. Also this we have discussed together with the UN and NATO, because we are looking for synergies in this field and we want to avoid duplication of thinking and reflections in this field. We can put together many of the work strands we, the EU, NATO and the UN, are developing on the links between security and defence and climate change.
In particular, we discussed with the Ministers two issues related to climate change and defence: one is how to make sure that the militaries contribute to address climate change issues, in particular reducing the energy dependency and its carbon footprint and in this way contributing to address climate change effects. That can also be helpful in terms of effectiveness and efficiency of operations on the ground. We also discussed the effect of climate change on conflicts, or on crisis areas that can affect the ways in which militaries could be deployed in these theatres. How can we foresee to adapt our capabilities, our way of working on the ground, in theatres where climate change creates situations that are different from the ones we have today. You can already see the connection present in some areas, in the Sahel for instance or other areas, where the militaries deployed – be they UN, NATO or EU or national militaries – have to face a situation on the ground that is evolving in terms of climate change conditions. We need to adapt our capacity to operate in these theatres.
Read Mogherini’s full remarks here.