NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees climate change as "a defining challenge for our generation and a crisis multiplier," and wants the alliance to play a key role in understanding the best way to fight it while also adapting operations and reducing military emissions, he writes in Politico Europe.
Stoltenberg says climate change is "making the world a more dangerous place." Rising sea levels and extreme weather are "devastating communities, increasing competition for scarce resources, and fueling tensions and conflict," he added. "That's why it's so crucial that NATO sets the gold standard on climate change and security, and then takes action to address it. Climate change threatens global security, so NATO must be part of the response."
On Thursday, Stoltenberg attended the U.S. Leaders Summit on climate change at the invitation of President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. NATO allies agreed to an "ambitious agenda on climate and security" in February, Stoltenberg said, and he expects NATO leaders to approve an action plan at a summit later this year.
The plan would task NATO with using its "unique capacities and expertise to monitor and track climate change," Stoltenberg said, investing in more research and sharing data. NATO soldiers and equipment are facing extreme heat and cold, with critical infrastructure also exposed — the Pentagon has found that climate change threatens the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, which also houses NATO commands.
There will be an assessment of the impact of climate change on NATO assets and installations, Stoltenberg said, and training and exercises will be adapted. NATO will also decrease its dependence on fossil fuels and prioritize sustainable technologies. "Climate change is a generational challenge that requires a global solution, and NATO is a powerful platform for Europe and North America to tackle shared security challenges together," Stoltenberg said.