Since 2021 and the publication of the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there has been a growing awareness within the EU and NATO of the security implications of climate change. NATO even describes it as “an overarching challenge of our time”. Yet the challenges of mitigation and adaptation remain enormous. While modern armies have long regarded the environment as a potential source of constraints, they increasingly perceive climate change as a strategic and operational issue. However, the strategic analysis of climate security by most European armies remains largely theoretical and has not yet led to in-depth changes in defence policies. In the long term, it will nevertheless be essential, if not inevitable, for armed forces to adapt their human and material capabilities, not only to cope with climate change and the increasing scarcity of available energy resources, but also to take account of the increasingly stringent legal and regulatory implications of environmental issues. A champion of measures to preserve biodiversity, Belgian Defence is nevertheless struggling – due to a lack of sufficient human and financial resources – to implement the mitigation measures demanded by the federal government in order to fulfil the European Green Deal requirements. To meet the challenges of climate change, Defence also urgently needs to develop a comprehensive adaptation strategy, which the EU will ask anyway within the next few months.

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Research lines: Threats, challenges and strategic responses ; Belgium ; Europe

Source photo: BE Defence

Security & Strategy 153

Les armées face aux changements climatiques :
état des lieux et défis à relever
pour la Défense belge