Traditionally, European climate constituencies have mainly focused on the challenge of decarbonising big oil, gas and energy-intensive industry sectors, such as steel and cement. The climate change movement has largely been seen as a civilian-led movement, with a pervading suspicion that allowing militaries to be part of the conversation may result in them misusing the climate agenda for their own agenda. However, the rise of great power politics has brought Europe’s security and enhanced European defence cooperation back on the political agenda. Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has shaken, for now, EU states out of their security apathy.
This Clingendael policy brief points out six wins for the EU when decarbonising the military. Currently the sector is largely omitted from European Green Deal policies, despite it generating considerable emissions and the existence of real advantages from becoming less dependent on fossil fuels. The low carbon energy transition can enhance strategic autonomy, reduce foreign import costs and improve operational effectiveness. It can help to modernise the army and stay ahead of the game in a time of geopolitical turmoil. For the EU, it can be an opportunity to innovate and strengthen its competitive edge in green military technology. Including the military in the European Green Deal would be a boost to the EU’s international credibility on climate change.
Six Wins for the EU in decarbonising the military
- Helping the EU holistically and practically meet climate neutrality by 2050
- Helping the EU fulfil its new ‘twin agenda’ of becoming a leader in green and digital technologies
- Helping the EU lower direct costs on the battlefield
- Helping the EU move towards more strategic autonomy
- Helping the development of more robust and autonomous EU military
- Taking advantage of a strong infrastructure and coordination system
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