by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Leaders Summit on Climate

  • 22 Apr. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 22 Apr. 2021 21:03

(As delivered)

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Let's start by talking about multilateral engagement and for that I'd like to turn to Secretary General Stoltenberg. Secretary General Stoltenberg, as the former UN Special Envoy on climate change, you have a unique understanding of security implications of climate change. You’ve pushed for a robust climate security agenda within NATO. What prompted this push, and why should NATO fold climate into its risk assessment planning? Also how is NATO becoming a leading voice among international organizations dealing with the security related aspects of climate change?

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Thank you so much Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
And thank you Secretary Austin for inviting me.

I welcome President Biden’s leadership on tackling climate change.
As you mentioned, I am the former UN Special Envoy for Climate Change, so this is very close to my heart.

Global warming is making the world more dangerous.
It has a serious impact on our security.
So it matters for NATO.

NATO has recognised climate change as a security challenge for many years.
Now we are stepping up our efforts through NATO 2030.
And I expect NATO Leaders to approve an ambitious action plan on the security impact of climate change at our Summit on the 14th of June.
As part of our substantive and forward-looking agenda to deal with the challenges of today and tomorrow.

I see three areas where NATO has an important role to play in addressing climate change.

First, understand.
We must understand the problem, so we can better address it.

Climate change is a crisis multiplier,
From the Sahel to the High North.
Floods and forest fires, droughts and famines devastate communities,
increase competition for scarce resources,
and fuel tensions and conflict.

So we need to increase our awareness by monitoring and tracking climate change much more closely at NATO. 
To better understand and anticipate its impact on our security.
Including on the most vulnerable regions and on geopolitical competition.
This includes investing more in research,
and sharing data and analysis.

Second, adapt.
NATO must adapt so we can continue to operate in all conditions.
Much of our critical infrastructure is exposed to rising sea levels and more extreme weather.
From major European ports, like Rotterdam and Hamburg.
To the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, which houses NATO commands.

From Iraq to the Arctic, our soldiers and equipment face extreme heat and cold.
And increasingly our troops are being called on to respond to natural disasters, at home and abroad.
So climate change affects where and how we operate.

We will therefore conduct an Alliance-wide assessment of the impact of climate change on NATO assets and installations.
We will prioritise sustainable technologies in our procurement.
And partner with industry to deliver new climate-neutral capabilities. 
We will also integrate climate change into planning and exercises. 

Third, cut emissions.
NATO must play its part in reducing military emissions.
Greening our militaries can offer real win-wins.
For example, by decreasing our dependence on fossil fuel supply,
which often makes our operations more vulnerable.

In this way we can reduce our environmental impact.
And at the same time improve our operational effectiveness.

Allied militaries are already stepping up to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energies.
Using biofuels to power fighter jets.
Integrating solar panels into soldiers’ combat gear.
And planting trees on military bases to offset carbon emissions.

We must continue this good progress.
And work more closely with the private sector and partners.
To drive innovation and share expertise.

It makes little sense to have more and more electric vehicles on our streets,
while our armed forces still rely only on fossil fuels.

My ambition for the NATO summit this year is a clear political commitment to plan for reductions in military emissions,
contributing to the goal of net zero.

NATO is the unique platform for Europe and North America to ensure our shared security.
And climate change is a generational challenge that requires a global solution.
So NATO must set the gold standard on understanding, adapting to, and mitigating the security impacts of climate change.

I look forward to working with you to make our planet safer for all.