Sustainability in the defence sector

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the major challenges we face as a society nowadays. From citizens to global organisations to all sectors that make up our social, political and economic landscape, we are all aware of the need to make efforts to mitigate the harmful effects that our own actions have on the planet.

The European Union, for example, has taken on the Global Commitment on Methane to reduce methane emissions by 30% in this decade, while Spain, for its part, is preparing to reduce global emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

In addition to these actors, Industry and Defence sectors are fully committed and involved in reducing their climate impact. Therefore, they make constant efforts to be increasingly sustainable by the optimisation of their internal processes or the development of new products and services that contribute to preserving the environment.

Countering climate change is high on NATO's agenda as it poses a threat to the security and well-being of society. The extreme weather conditions we are experiencing, and the predicted worsening of these conditions, if we do not address them in the short to medium term, may also have a negative impact on military infrastructure and equipment, the power struggle for control of different geographic areas, or something as basic and necessary as our own standards of living.

In this sense, it is vital to acquire a strategic dimension capable of dealing with these adversities. To be effective, these approaches in the Defence and Industry sector must take into account operational efficiency, capability development, and public-private and international partnerships.

The International Energy Agency is working with NATO on energy efficiency, data integration and logistics management, all within the framework of circular economy. Progress is being made in the design of circular systems, the use and recycling of low-carbon materials and the reduction of fossil fuels in favour of sustainable energies such as hydrogen and electricity. Increasing autonomy for the armed forces to produce, supply and transport their own energy is another goal, with multiple environmental, economic and social benefits.

The Energy and Environment Programme, an initiative of the European Defence Agency (EDA), similarly seeks to use the principles of the circular economy to decarbonise the military sector and achieve energy efficiency, as the extraction of critical resources is highly polluting, especially given that their reuse rates are low.

In this context, the EDA launched in 2021 the new Forum for a Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED), which includes EU countries - with the exception of Denmark - and aims to foster innovative collaborative projects with an impact on business models while mitigating the environmental impact of the defence sector, through materials and process management, eco-design and digitalisation.

It is clear that our environment is changing and therefore calls for urgent action to help reverse the situation. To make this possible, we need to invest in innovative energy infrastructures, use new technologies and take our awareness a step further with concrete, on-the-ground measures. Without all these elements, which form part of a whole, reducing CO2 emissions and protecting the environment will be a failed mission.

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FEINDEF will provide unprecedented levels of access to the new European defense market, reinforcing the implementation of initiatives in the fields of: collaborative research, capacity development, promotion of investment in the European defense supply chain and creation of the Single European Defense Market.