Our changing environment and the fate of national defense
October-December 2017
By: Nicolas Regaud

For instance, since 2008 all French armament programs must follow an eco-design process beginning with the first technical specifications. The new FREMM multi-mission naval frigates are a convincing example: the technologies used for managing waste produced at sea, for instance, anticipated changes in regulations that occurred throughout the ship’s design phase. And the electric propulsion and complex hybrid structure meant that fuel consumption was reduced by 20 percent compared to the previous class warships.

Reducing energy consumption is a major challenge for our defense department. Our consumption profile is atypical and imbalanced: 70 percent for operations fuel, compared to 30 percent for the rest. We therefore have very little room to maneuver, as we cannot envisage hampering our operational capacity. But through various energy-saving and renewable energy development measures, the French Ministry of Defense has already reduced its energy consumption by 17 percent in the last five years, and is committed to reducing it by 20 percent between now and 2020, excluding operational activities.

But if “green defense” is important, it is just one part of what needs to be done. For us, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, or COP21, has been a catalyst to go beyond and deepen our reflection on the various strategic challenges of climate change for defense, with the objective of drawing up a roadmap to be implemented at the national and international levels. At the national level, it is essential to expand the scope of our reflection in order to examine the consequences of climate change on armed forces operations that engage the five strategic functions identified by our white paper on defense and national security: knowledge and anticipation; deterrence ; protection ; prevention ; and military operations.  

To illustrate, let me give a few examples. First, in terms of knowledge and anticipation, we must develop a new risk mapping linked to climate change at the regional and international levels, and encourage research centers specializing in environmental matters to contribute their expertise to the French Ministry of Defense’s strategic foresight exercises.

Please login to leave a comment