MOD's Top Climate Change Advisor Says Military Going 'Green' Could Save Lives

The MOD's top climate change advisor says lives could be saved in any future war by the military going 'green'.

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee was speaking at the launch of a landmark report into global climate security.

He referenced the scores of troops who lost their lives on re-supply missions in Iraq and Afghanistan – something which he said could be avoided if the Armed Forces embrace renewable energy and become more self-sufficient.

The World Climate and Security Report was written by a respected US think-tank and says the planet faces a climate catastrophe unless action is taken.

It outlines how militaries need to prepare and adapt for an increasing number of worldwide crises, as well as significantly cutting their own emissions.

Secretary General of the International Military Council on Climate Security Sherri Goodman said: "Militaries can lead by example, they can lead by example and use their buying power.

"For example, in the US, the Department of Defense leases 165,000 tactical vehicles annually, and if it electrifies most of that fleet, that will help towards nationwide goals of setting up charging stations and using its buying power to lead much-needed change."

A penguin admires the stunning landscape of remote UK overseas territory South Georgia (Picture: Royal Navy).
Picture: Royal Navy.

The report highlights key risks for the Armed Forces in the face of climate change.

It says security threats driven by global warming are on the rise, as some areas are hit by new catastrophic events before they have fully recovered from previous disasters.

The think-tank stresses that militaries will be more and more overstretched, given their roles of first responders amid an increasing number of weather crises.

Military infrastructure too, the report says, will be threatened by the likes of extreme temperatures and flooding.

The Ministry of Defence this year published its strategy on climate change and sustainability.

Its author, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Non-Executive Director for Climate Change in Defence, said: "The US military lost somewhere between two and three thousand soldiers through its logistic re-supplies in Iraq and Afghanistan and we in the UK lost our most senior officer in a logistic re-supply patrol.

"That sort of thing, if you reduce the number of logistic re-supplies, will allow the infantry to go and do other things, which will be better for the military."

The Army is to plant two million trees in the fight against climate change (Picture: MOD).
The Army is to plant two million trees in the fight against climate change (Picture: MOD).

The General warned about the impact of rising sea temperatures on the engines of ships and submarine sensors.

He added: "Ships, as everybody knows, use cold sea water to cool their engines. Well already, we're beginning to have problems on really hot days with those engines cutting out at a lower speed than we would anticipate and wish."

The MOD has implemented a world-first rule, as a commitment to combating climate change – firms bidding for a contract worth more than £5m now must show evidence of a net-zero strategy. 

Next week, NATO leaders will meet in Brussels, where climate change is expected to top the agenda for the first time.

Cover image: A library image of a Chinook helicopter deployed to help with flooding in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, in June 2019 (Picture: MOD).

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