The Joint Communication offers a new perspective and sets out the EU’s framework for addressing these challenges affecting our society and security operations
Today, the European Commission and EU High Representative Josep Borrell issued a joint communication outlining how the EU will address the growing impacts of climate change and environmental degradation in the areas of peace, security and defence. .
Recurring extreme climate events, rising temperatures and sea levels, desertification, water scarcity, threats to biodiversity, environmental pollution and contamination threaten human health and well-being and can cause greater displacement, migratory movements , pandemics, social unrest, instability and even conflict. European armed forces are also faced with changing and adverse operational conditions due to climate change. These new threats have already prompted allies and partners to update their policies as well.
The Joint Communication offers a new perspective and sets out the EU’s framework for addressing these challenges affecting our society and security operations, as well as the intensifying geopolitical competition for the resources and technologies required for the green transition.
New perspective on the relationship between climate and security
With the joint communication, the EU seeks to better integrate the nexus between climate, peace and security in EU external policies, with a series of concrete actions across the spectrum of data, policies, missions, defense and cooperation with third parties partners to ensure that impacts are taken into account at all levels of the foreign policy-making and planning process, as well as business. The Communication sets out the EU’s plan to strengthen the resilience and security of the Union and its partners as the climate crisis intensifies, and improves the links between different policies to ensure that external actions and capacities are fit for purpose. addressing these challenges.
The joint communication sets out four key priorities:
*strengthening planning, decision-making and implementation through reliable, accessible and evidence-based analyzes of the relationship between climate and security
*implementation of measures to address climate and security challenges in EU external action, including by mainstreaming the climate-security nexus in regional and national conflict analyses;
*strengthening climate change adaptation and mitigation measures within Member States’ military and civilian operations and infrastructure to reduce costs and carbon footprint while maintaining operational efficiency
*strengthening international partnerships through multilateral fora and with partners such as NATO in line with the EU’s climate change and environment agenda
To achieve these priorities, the EU will implement around 30 actions, including: the creation of a climate and environmental security data and analysis hub within the EU Satellite Centre, the use of environmental advisors in Common Policy missions and operations Security and Defense (CSDP) of the EU, the creation of training platforms at national and EU level, such as the EU Training Platform on Climate, Security and Defence, the development of in-depth analyzes and studies on relevant policies and actions, in particular in vulnerable geographical areas, such as the Sahel and the Arctic.
The term “climate-security nexus” used in the joint statement refers to the effects that both climate change and environmental degradation, including biodiversity loss and pollution, have on peace, security and defence.
Climate change and environmental degradation are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. They are already affecting the security of food production, by reducing the yield of important crops such as maize, rice and wheat, and by increasing the risk of simultaneous bad harvests in major producing countries. At the same time, unsustainable food production also leads to environmental degradation and water scarcity. By 2050, it is estimated that more than one billion people will have insufficient access to water, and that land degradation could reach 90% and the demand for food could increase by 60%.
Resource scarcity and instability due to climate and environmental causes are actively being exploited by armed groups and organized crime networks, corrupt or authoritarian regimes, as well as by other parties, including through environmental crimes. Environmental crime has already become the fourth largest branch of crime worldwide, and it continues to grow, further accelerating the environmental crisis, including through the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.
European armed forces need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their dependence on fossil fuels on the ground, while phasing in green energy, without compromising their operational effectiveness and the resilience of critical defense-related infrastructure .
The EU has been at the forefront of addressing climate change in general for many years. In particular, in 2008 it characterized climate change as a threat multiplier and in 2020 it examined the relationship of climate change to EU crisis management and European defence. The joint communication is a follow-up to the March 2023 Council conclusions on climate and energy diplomacy, which call for better integration of the nexus between climate, peace and security in EU foreign policy.
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