NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday said the alliance must focus on climate change even as it contends with fortifying its defenses against aggression from the Kremlin.
At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Dubai, Mr. Stoltenberg said a clear link exists between a nation’s security and climate change, which he called a “crisis multiplier.”
“It forces people to move. Migratory flows are increasing because of climate change. But it also increases competition for scarce resources,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “In that way, climate change is actually fueling conflict, and conflict matters for NATO and for our security.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to order troops across the border into Ukraine last year has prompted many leaders to call it the most dire threat to NATO since the end of the Cold War. Before the invasion, several leaders of NATO states argued that buying fuel from Moscow was purely a commercial decision and shouldn’t be politicized, Mr. Stoltenberg reminded conference attendees.
“Now they all realize that, of course, to be so dependent on Russian gas was a political decision,” he said. “It was about our security because Russia used gas as a tool to try to coerce us after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
While NATO members must develop new and renewable energy sources, the secretary-general said only a handful of countries control the technology and raw materials needed for critical components like solar panels and batteries.
“We shouldn’t make the same mistake, being too dependent on one or two unreliable suppliers of critical commodities (and) raw materials when we make the energy transition,” he said.
NATO also needs to do its part by reducing emissions from the military sector, Mr. Stoltenberg said.
“If you look at the big battle tanks and the big battleships and fighter jets, they are very advanced and great in many ways. But, they’re not very environmentally friendly,” he said. “They pollute a lot, so we need to get down the emissions.”
Mr. Stoltenberg predicted that NATO would achieve net zero, when emissions of carbon dioxide due to human activity and removal of the gasses are in balance, by 2050.
“In the future, the most effective engines, the most effective vehicles (and) planes will be the green ones,” he said. “So to ensure that we are ahead of the curve, we also need to ensure that the military is moving toward a more green and sustainable technological solution.”