Military 'Needs To Adapt' Due To Climate Change

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, author of a new sustainability report, spoke to Forces News about changes the military needs to make.

New issues brought forward by climate change means the Armed Forces "need to adapt", the author of a new Ministry of Defence (MOD) report has told Forces News.

The document, titled 'Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach', calls on the military to take a leading role in making change, including drastically cutting emissions and becoming a world leader in green defence.

UK defence accounts for half of all the Government's carbon emissions, which it aims to lower to a net-zero reach by 2050.

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, the report's author and the MOD's lead on climate change and sustainability, outlined the drastic effects a changing environment could have on the military.

He said: "The climate is changing, the climate is making it more difficult to operate, the climate is affecting our bases, it's affecting our equipment and so on, so we need to adapt. 

"The scientists will say we've already locked in a more violent storm-led world, a wetter world, a warmer world in 2030, there's nothing we can do about that.

"Some of the scientists say we've hit, already, nine of the 15 tipping points that will push the world into an inexorable move to a much, much more difficult world to live in."

Lt Gen Nugee says the British military is likely to find itself deployed more frequently around the world to more places to deal with crises caused by climate change. 

Naturally, if the military is working in these conditions, personnel will directly face new and often harder challenges in day-to-day operations, Lt Gen Nugee also explained.

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee wrote the report outlining how defence can go greener.

He said the Armed Forces must embrace the change and that going green will not impact capability.

"It's not a zero-sum game. It's not either you're green or you're capable," he said.

"I'm absolutely sure that if we embrace these new technologies and we look for ways that can work for us then actually we'll have a more capable military and more capable Armed Forces as a direct result of using new modern technologies."

He also told Forces News how he sees the military potentially operating in the future.

"Climate change offers the opportunity of a number of things, it offers us to think differently," Lt Gen Nugee said.

"So I think we'll have fewer people in our equipment. In some ships – minesweepers – we'll have no people, in some aircraft, we call them drones today, no people. We'll have some armoured vehicles with no people. 

"I think we'll see green energy or renewable energy solutions in a lot of our vehicles and a lot of our equipment, we'll be using different fuels, I'm absolutely convinced of that. 

"But we won't see a removal of infantry, we won't see a removal of gaining and holding ground.

"We won't see a removal of ships going across the sea, opening up the sea trade routes.

But Lt Gen Nugee said what he does see is defence "deploying in slightly different ways".

"We'll be more self-sufficient in our deployment, we're looking at perhaps as much as 40% of our energy in the next 10 years coming from renewables on our deployed bases," he added.