by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai

  • 01 Dec. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 01 Dec. 2023 13:35

(As delivered)

Thanks so much. 
And let me start by thanking our hosts and also the Munich Security Conference for convening this very important discussion and also in this room, because it is important to really try to understand better the link between climate change and security and for all of us, it's obvious that climate change, global warming is one of the most important challenges we face. 

Perhaps it’s less obvious why NATO is here and why the Secretary General of NATO attended this meeting. 
But the reason why we are here despite the fact that we are a military alliance, dealing with deterrence and defence and working on security issues, is of course that there is a link between climate change and security. 

So NATO is here because climate change matters for our security, and therefore it matters for NATO. 

First of all, we need to fully recognise the link between climate change and security that goes both ways. 
Climate change is a crisis multiplier. 
It forces people to move. Migratory flows are increasing because of climate change already. 
But it also increases competition for scarce resources.
And in that way climate change is actually fuelling conflict.
And conflict matters for NATO and for our security. 

But it goes the other way around too. 
Because wars, conflict and conflicts makes it harder to combat climate change. 
Partly because it undermines the trust we need between nations to build the climate change architecture –the architecture we need to combat climate change. 
And also because resources that which –that should have been used to reduce emissions are used to protect our security, instead of protecting the planet. 
We need to allocate resources for protecting our security. 
So peace, stability, security is extremely important to enable us to combat climate change.
If you don't succeed in preserving peace, we’ll not succeed in fighting climate change. 
So that link goes both ways. 
Climate change creates crisis and crisis undermines the possibility for combating climate change. 
So this is at the core what actually NATO is dealing with. 

Second, is that in NATO, we are strongly in favour of the energy transition. 
But we also see the challenges related to –that we need to ensure that when we implement the energy transition away from fossil fuels to more reliable and less polluting sources of energy, we have to make sure that we don't do that in a way which undermines energy security. 
There are not many months ago, actually two years ago, we had a lot of leaders within the NATO Alliance that said that buying gas from Russia was purely a commercial issue. 
It was not a political issue at all, we should leave it to the companies to make commercial decisions, not for the politicians to –in a way to try to control those commercial decisions. 

Now, they all realise that, of course, to be so dependent on Russian gas was a political decision. 
It was about our security because Russia used gas as a tool to try to coerce us after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 
We should not make the same mistakes as we develop a new renewable energy sources. 
There is a challenge that there are a few countries, which are controlling most of the technology, most of the raw materials, the rare earth minerals, which are so important for, for instance, solar panels or batteries. 
So we shouldn't make the same mistake, being too dependent on one or two unreliable suppliers of critical commodities, raw materials when we make the energy transition. 

Third message and third link between security and climate change is of course, that NATO and NATO Allies have to adapt both to the fact that the climate is changing and also, to do our part in reducing emissions. 
More extreme weather will impact the way we conduct our military operations, from our training to our uniforms, to the fact that naval bases will be hit by increased sea levels, that matters for the way we conduct our military operations. 
So it has to be included in our missions and operations and the planning, but we also need to ensure that our armed forces do their part when it comes to reducing emissions. 
There is no way we can get to net zero without also reducing emissions from the military sector. 
And if you look at big battle tanks and the big battleships and fighter jets, they are very advanced and great in many ways, but they're not very environmentally friendly. 
They pollute a lot, so we need to get down the emissions. 

We are therefore, investing in programmes to develop new, more environmentally technologies for military vehicles. For planes, we are using some biofuels for some jets, we are looking into how we can use solar panels to fuel our bases also because that will reduce the resilience of… on fossil fuels. 
And of course, if we had to choose between something which is green or combat effective, we have to choose the combat effective solution. 
So the challenge is to ensure that in the future, the combat effective solutions are the green ones. 
And I'm quite optimistic that that will be the case because there is a revolution going on in the private sector. 
And in the future, the most effective engines, the most effective vehicles, planes will be the green ones. So to ensure that we are ahead of the curve, we also need to ensure that the military is moving towards a more greener and sustainable technological solution. 

So these are the three reasons why climate change matters for NATO and why I'm glad that NATO has put this on top of the agenda and also formatted some specific targets, how to reduce our own emissions by 2030. And by 2050, we should be as a net zero also in the armed forces.