With their orientation toward alliance solidarity and collective defense, NATO and the EU have provided stability and security for decades. On the other hand, the focus on the threat from Russia has led to a neglect of new security risks – including those resulting from human interventions in the ecosystem.
Economic systems based on overconsumption of resources and the burning of fossil fuels cause, among other things, the extinction of species and climate change. Extreme weather events threaten human security through weather disasters, food shortages, the spread of dangerous diseases, and the resulting migratory pressures. As global warming continues, it will exacerbate conflicts over resources, and lead to rural exodus and violent resistance, particularly in politically fragile contexts. At the same time, the operational readiness of the military is put at risk in many places, and it is also important not to forget the economic and geopolitical consequences of emission reduction and adaptation efforts.
The same applies to the enormous greenhouse gas emissions from the military itself. Approaches taken so far to making military activities and facilities more sustainable are nowhere near sufficient; they need to be stepped up considerably, including at alliance and international level, with a targeted package of measures.
The Covid pandemic has shown that the integration of non-traditional security risks calls for a reoriented foreign, security and defence policy that is better networked and financed, combining military equipment and expertise with civilian mediation and peacebuilding approaches. It is time for climate security issues to fully permeate strategy at NATO and EU level.