A new study by the European Defence Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, published 8 June, provides scientific evidence to support the development of national strategies to prepare the armed forces for climate change impacts.
The report finds that the defence sector has been proven to be vulnerable to the effects of weather-related natural disasters, as evidenced by past events.
According to this research, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the looming threat of climate change is expected to heighten the likelihood of unfavourable outcomes, and there is a pressing requirement to strengthen climate resilience and eco-friendliness of the defence industry, raise awareness, cultivate expertise, aptitudes, and abilities in the field, all while augmenting the operational efficacy of the military forces.
The need for the defence sector to improve its resilience has become increasingly urgent.
Climate hazards, including severe floods, storms, and extreme temperatures, pose a significant threat to defence assets, capabilities, and operations, and civilian entities operating critical energy infrastructure (CEI) are vulnerable to climate hazards that can impact the energy supply relied upon by the military.
The report finds that the impact of climate hazards on a CEI could lead to a disruption of its services, and have a cascading effect on military installations, ultimately compromising their operational effectiveness and readiness.
The consequences of these impacts can be severe, potentially causing harm to military assets and personnel, as well as increasing the costs associated with infrastructure maintenance and repair.
The European Union is taking steps to climate-proof its defence strategy.
The study highlights a significant gap in the systematic approach towards tackling climate change in the EU defence sector., and offers recommendations mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, including investing in sustainable energy measures.
The guidelines are geared towards enabling the integration of eco-friendly practises across all facets of defence, with a particular emphasis on operational aspects, capability planning and development, governance, multi-stakeholder engagement, and research, development and innovation.