by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the high-level roundtable “Climate, Peace and Stability: Weathering Risk Through COP and Beyond” in Glasgow, UK

  • 02 Nov. 2021 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 03 Nov. 2021 17:19

Moderator Wolfgang Ischinger : Let's now turn to NATO. Jens, you have spoken about climate change risks, and how NATO adapts to meeting these risks in the past. So share with us your thoughts about what the role of these risks are for NATO, how NATO deals or should deal with climate security risks are going forward. You have the floor. 

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General: Thank you, Wolfgang. Thank you so much for convening this very important platform, because I really believe that security and climate, that is two sides of the same coin. And I have participated in actually six different COPs, six different climate summit. The first of all in 1997, when we agreed to the Kyoto Protocol, but that has been in my previous capacities as Prime Minister of Norway and as climate envoy for the UN. This is the first time actually, NATO is present at a climate summit as this one. 

And that reflects the fact that in NATO, we have now made climate change an important task for our Alliance. Because as the foreign minister of Kenya just stated, climate change is the crisis multiplier. Climate change is making our world more dangerous. Climate change increases competition about scarce resources as water, land, it forces millions of people to flee. And therefore it matters for security, and it matters for NATO. 

And we made an important decision at the NATO Summit in June, where we’ve agreed an action plan and there are actually three things NATO can do, and we are starting to do all three of them. 

One is to increase awareness. We will have annual assessments about the link between climate change and security. 

The second thing is to mitigate. We need to make sure that we have the technologies, which are reducing emissions. But of course we cannot choose between either green or strong armed forces. We need strong and green at the same time. 

But I'm absolutely confident that that in the future the most effective, the best planes, the best ships, the best military vehicles, they will be fuelled by something different than fossil fuels. They will not emit. 

And we have also seen the United Kingdom and very much pushed by Secretary Ben Wallace. They're actually now pushing this technological change, which is transforming the civilian sector, but also transforming the way we conduct military operations with less emissions. 

The third thing NATO should do is to adapt, because our Armed Forces, they're operating out in nature. And with more extreme weather, our armed forces have to be able to tackle that. 
Everything from extreme heat. We have a training mission in Iraq. Our forces are met or are facing more than 50 degrees Celsius, of course, approximate that is here now in this room…. so that matters for equipment, for uniform, the way they do their military operations.  

The melting ice in the High North matters for the High North, and how we operate out there. 

Increasing sea levels matters for our naval basis, more windier, wetter and wilder weather matters for everything our armed forces do. 

So, this will impact our exercises, our capabilities, and we're integrating this into our military planning and our capability development. 

So, climate change matters for NATO because it matters for our security and NATO is now addressing these challenges.


Moderator: Because we are running out of time, here is what we will do. I’ll invite our three speakers present here with me in the room to offer their concluding comments. 

I think what we should focus on now, is because, it seems that everybody agrees to the diagnosis and to the urgency. 

What needs to be the action now? 

And I am sure you have rather different viewpoints when I think of NATO, when I think of the UK, when I think of Kenya. Then at the end I will invite Miguel Berger of the German Foreign Office to offer his concluding remarks. Maybe we’ll do it in reverse order.  So Jens, if that is Ok, why do not start, then we will go to Ben, then Rachel would be the last speaker. 

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General: The action is we need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s as difficult and as simple as that.

Then, of course, we have different responsibilities for achieving that. My responsibility as Secretary General NATO is, of course, to make sure that the military, that they play their part, or that they contribute to reducing the emissions. 

And back in Kyoto when we had the first agreement, military missions were explicitly exempted from any obligations to reduce. And now it's actually hardly mentioned. 

And one of the problems when it comes to military missions is that we don't have good statistics, we don't have good numbers, for many reasons, but partly also for historical reasons there has been such… security and so on around military emissions 

So one of the first things we'll do at NATO is to actually develop a methodology, a framework, an agreed mapping, a structure to count military emissions, because that's the first step to reduce military emissions. 

And that'll be one contribution to get a reduction of military emissions. 

And the big issue is the issues we are discussing here, the 1.5 degree to keep that alive, stop the use of fossil fuels, preserve the rainforest and all the other issues, but I'll leave that to the others because my responsibility is to do something with military emissions, which is one part of the big answer. 

Thank you.