[Environment] Defence and climate: a shared battle

07 June 2024 Corporate social responsibility News

The French armed forces have been developing their posture on environmental responsibility for nearly 20 years. Assumptions on global warming put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now steer the French Ministry of the Armed Forces’ course of action, as reflected in their current climate and defence strategy , complementing the sustainable defence strategy and the defence energy strategy. Let’s go over this strategy and the actions taken.

Military defence transformed by the climate breakdown

Heatwaves, forest fires, floods, rising sea levels, cyclones and hurricanes: climate change is upon us. Guided by scientific research, the French armed forces adapt their commitment, infrastructure, equipment and personnel to its numerous repercussions. By modifying international security and the conditions of commitment of the armed forces, the climate breakdown raises the question of resilience and maintaining operational superiority.  

For the French Navy as for the other armed forces, this is already a reality as reflected in the broadening of the traditional scope of their missions such as exercising sovereignty in exclusive economic zones, protecting biodiversity and fighting against trafficking and pollution. Several other repercussions are already anticipated, such as adapting naval bases to rising sea levels or multiplying humanitarian rescue operations following natural disasters.

This vision of military defence transformed by the climate breakdown entailing several insecurities (economic, health, food) is shared and taken into account at the European and NATO levels and is also reflected in dedicated strategies. Furthermore, cooperation in the face of this global and sustainable challenge can take on various forms, notably via numerous partnerships with other ministerial departments, the national scientific community as well as private actors such as companies. 


Four strategic focus areas

The ministerial strategy with regard to climate and defence adopted in April 2022 is structured around four focus areas. The first consists in developing knowledge and the ability to anticipate the strategic challenges associated with climate change thanks to a close and ongoing collaboration with scientific establishments, think tanks, industry and other State departments. The second focus area consists in adapting the defence tool to predictable disruptions caused by climate change while the third aims to contribute to public policy and sustainable development, notably through actions related to energy transition and mitigation, environmental protection and biodiversity. Lastly, the fourth focus area aims to step up cooperation and sharing of good practices within the Ministry as well as at the national and international levels, particularly within the scope of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). 


Actions to raise awareness and forward planning

The actions taken over nearly two years include:

  • the creation and deployment of a climate and defence fresco, a tool indispensable to raising awareness on the defence challenges related to climate change and the need to take action;
  • the prospective mapping of the exposure of military compounds to natural hazards up until 2050;   
  • engaging in comparable thinking on defence equipment;
  • elaboration of forward thinking between joint forces on the impact of climate change on deploying forces up until 2050.


What about ecological and energy transition?

As far as green defence goes, in relation to the contribution of armed forces to public policies on sustainable development, the Ministry has put in place several specific strategies (protection of biodiversity, water, waste) contributing to its ecological transition.

Lastly, the Ministry is pursuing the implementation of the defence energy strategy, covering both operational and non-operational energy. The objectives are to prepare and engage the Ministry in energy transition, while stepping up energy performance and security.