NATO’s Renewed Focus on Climate Change & Security: What You Need to Know

by Mark Nevitt, Just Security, 23 June 2021

An article by Mark Nevitt for Just Security reported on the 14 June NATO Brussels Summit referring to the Communiqué as well as the Climate Change and Security Action Plan. Concerning the latter, the author wrote that "This pithy but powerful plan — just three pages – expressly acknowledges climate change’s role in state political fragility, conflict, displacement, and migration. It also specified four specific action items to keep an eye on:- Awareness: Increase climate awareness among allies via an annual Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment.

- Awareness: Increase climate awareness among allies via an annual Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment.

- Adaptation: Adapt to climate change by incorporating climate change considerations into its work on many areas to include defense planning, training and exercises, and disaster response.

- Mitigation: Mitigate NATO’s contribution of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by developing a novel “mapping and analytical methodology” for GHG emissions from military activities and installations.

- Outreach: Enhance outreach with a broad swath of climate-partners to include international and regional organizations, the United Nations, EU, academia, and industry."

Referring also to previous article Mark Nevitt added that "the future will increasingly be shaped by climate change’s destabilizing impacts — a vision now clearly shared by all 30 NATO members." 

The author further indicates: "Despite these bold pronouncements, questions remain on translating NATO’s bold, strategic climate initiatives into action. As NATO implements the Action Plan", the author highlights three questions to help focus our collective attention (and explores each of these in detail):

 1. How Does the NATO Climate Plan Translate into NATO Arctic Operations?

2. How will NATO’s Climate Efforts Synchronize with Other International Organizations & Efforts?

3. Will NATO’s New Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment Better Predict Future, Outside Threats?"

The author concludes that "NATO is correct to see climate change as a destabilizing force this century and its new Climate Action Plan should help prepare the “strongest and most successful Alliance in history” for our climate-destabilized future."

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