Climate and Energy Security – A Strategic National Security issue
On January 31, 2012 the GMF Warsaw office hosted an event entitled Climate and Energy Security – a strategic national security issue, organized jointly with the British Embassy Warsaw. During the event Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, UK Climate and Energy Security Envoy delivered a keynote speech in which he highlighted how climate change may affect national and global security.
He explained that the effects of climate change are not the direct cause of today’s conflicts, but they are likely to significantly multiply the risks of tensions around the world. For example, if a part of land disappears as a result of rising water levels, a migrating population may be a cause conflict in an area where it settles. National interests and security may therefore be affected by events taking place miles away from its borders.
Consequently, climate induced conflicts may have a negative impact on trade routes. A good example is Yemen, a state located in a region producing oil and on a trade route through which this oil is being transported to the UK and other countries. If the climate warming further reduces water supplies, both the oil production and the trade route will be affected by subsequent population migrations.
What is more, climate change may bring serious implication for the military. Secure access to natural resources: food, water and energy may be seriously impeded in areas of conflict or those affected by natural disasters, thus making military operations or delivery of humanitarian assistance problematic, if not impossible.
Admiral Morisetti pointed out that it is crucial to cut down energy use and take a holistic approach to ensuring energy security. Renewable energy sources should play an important part in this approach. He remarked that the UK military is being regularly trained to adapt to demanding conditions, but in order to reduce the risks to national stability a strategy for continuous energy delivery has to be developed. As a part of this plan, the UK military has incorporated carbon budgets to cut down on its emissions.
Admiral Morisetti’s speech was followed by a discussion panel featuring Major General Bogusław Pacek, Advisor to the Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Poland and Mr Adam de Sola Pool, CEO of Environmental Investment Partners (EIP), a venture capital firm specializing in all stages of development, including start-up, early venture, expansion, pre-IPO’s and development capital.
General Pacek stated that thinking about secure energy supply for the military has been almost absent from the agenda in Poland, but he acknowledged that it is time to adapt. The Polish Armed Forces nowadays are unprepared for energy shortages, therefore it is necessary to look for more operational, better and cheaper sources. He would like Poland to learn from the more experienced UK.
Speaking from the market perspective, Mr de Sola Pool highlighted that Poland’s biggest problem at the moment is ‘addiction to coal’. Reliance on only one energy source amid changing climate may lead to increased borrowing costs, thus reducing government budget. Diversification of portfolio by including wind and shale gas energy is a long term solution to the problem and to a greater energy security in Poland.