Natural disasters like heatwaves, droughts and floods show that Europe’s environment is under enormous pressure due to the climate emergency. There is an urgent need for all sectors, including the military, to help improve the EU’s environmental outlook. The EU Strategic Compass approved in March 2022 recognises this and embeds climate and environmental considerations. Despite this, it is unclear which initiatives exist in the EU to “green” military policy and how successful their implementation has been.
When assessing the effectiveness of military greening policies in the EU this review found that in spite of the scale of military expenditure, and the potentially environmentally harmful nature of its activities, the military is commonly excluded from discussions on environmental performance indicators. Open access to both military environmental policy and environmental reporting is sporadic. The majority of EU militaries do not publish regular environmental reports. Where provided, the scope and range of environmental topics covered also varies, and there is a tendency to focus on positive news stories. A key challenge for the military in implementing environmental policies is maintaining long-term commitment and funding, especially in light of pressures to increase military capacity.
A greening review of transparency and implementation
The report recommends to align reduction targets with the European Green Deal and goal for climate-neutrality by 2050 by measures such as establishing an independent Defence Environmental Protection Regulator for EU militaries, inclusion of the UN SDGs and EU environmental targets in military environmental policy or commissioning independent environmental compliance auditing for overseas deployment. Furthermore, the report urges for more transparency by setting out a minimum framework for military environmental reporting, establishing a centralised online platform hosted by the European Environment Agency or promoting the streamlining of military environmental technical networks.