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Home » Facing sweltering soldiers and flooded ports, NATO to focus on climate change

Facing sweltering soldiers and flooded ports, NATO to focus on climate change

Facing sweltering soldiers and flooded ports, NATO to focus on climate change

Hotter summers in Iraq are blasting soldiers sitting inside armored vehicles. Flooding is threatening the world’s largest navy base.

Russian submarines are prowling the melting Arctic. Now NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants to make global warming a major focus of the military alliance’s strategy and planning, pushing environmental issues to the center as a security threat.

The new push at NATO, which was approved Tuesday by alliance foreign ministers at a gathering at the headquarters in Brussels, signals a significant shift for the organization, which has traditionally guarded against threats from Russia and other political actors around the world.

Now, NATO will also try to incorporate a different sort of danger into its work, as climate change upends old security assumptions and creates new risks for democratic societies. Stoltenberg, a former U.N. special envoy on climate change, said he hopes leaders will use a summit later this year to pledge to make their militaries carbon-neutral by 2050.

“Climate change is a crisis multiplier,” Stoltenberg said in an interview. “Climate change will lead to more extreme weather, to droughts and to flooding, force people to move, to more fierce competition about scarce resources, water, land.”

For some time, militaries have incorporated thinking about climate change into their planning, mainly in terms of how it will create new security risks and threaten their physical infrastructure. But a truly broad-ranging focus on a full range of climate and security issues has been rarer, especially a push that incorporates an effort to eliminate their emissions.

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