Promoting sustainability in the armed forces is a win-win approach for the Defence sector, and Europe as a whole, said Cypriot Minister of Defence Charalambos Petrides addressing a Conference on Climate Change and Security taking place in Larnaca, Cyprus.
The Conference is organised by Cyprus Security and Defence Academy of the Defence Ministry in cooperation with European Security and Defence College and the support of the Cyprus Institute and the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration and will be completed on Tuesday.
“The armed forces can reduce expenses in energy and would benefit of a greater availability of resources to key objectives from the operational point of view. This is of utmost importance, especially if we consider that it is estimated that the annual costs of energy consumption in Armed Forces in Europe is more than one billion euro and that Armed Forces are the wider public owner of infrastructure”, said Petrides.
He also stressed that Cyprus has included in the National Energy and Climate Change Plan, the defence plans and measures to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and sharing of renewable energy, contributing in this respect to the wider efforts of Cyprus to meet its energy targets for 2030.
“The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus as a major employer, land user, and consumer of natural resources, acknowledges its environmental and social responsibilities as well as the importance of having a solid environmental and energy policy which underlines its ability to achieve high standards of environmental performance. The commitment of the Ministry to act as a leader in sustainable environmental and energy management is clearly presented in its Environmental Policy, which is implemented through its Environmental Strategic Plan”, he said.
The Minister also pointed out that as early as December 2005, the Cyprus Ministry of Defence established its Environmental Committee which in June 2006 published for the first time its Defence Environmental Policy.
He then referred to the main innovative features of Cyprus’ Environment Action Plan including monitoring and managing environmental and energy activities by applying and implementing a verified Environmental Management System in six major military camps in Cyprus, integration of Ecologically Sustainable Development into the built environment, energy efficiency programs and development of Renewable Energy Sources (photovoltaic -PV) projects in military camps
He also referred to a waste recycling programme in collaboration with GREEN DOT Cyprus, hazardous and non-hazardous waste management programmes and organic waste to energy programs in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment.
The Minister also mentioned that there’re programs and initiatives for the natural and cultural heritage protection, dissemination activities to promote environmental and energy management among the Ministry’s personnel and integration of the principles of environmental and energy efficiency purchasing into the Ministry’s procurement activities.
Petrides said that the Ministry was determined to identify solutions and apply best practices, as well as exchange ideas and lessons learned to increase energy resilience and autonomy with the support of the European Union’s institutions and agencies, and in close collaboration with the other EU member states, regional and international partners.
He also stressed that Cyprus’ region and neighbourhood already witness the results of climate change and that’s why Cyprus advocated for the need for regional cooperation for mutually addressing and mitigating the effects of the climate crisis.
Addressing the Conference Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Jiri Sedivy, said that green and sustainable energy is becoming more and more significant for the military, especially because it brings additional benefits.
As he said energy is a key enabler of military operations, and its improved energy efficiency helps the armed forces to save considerable amounts of money that can be invested in other domains. For the defence sector, he added, the transition away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy models should be the key objective, especially in battlefields where supply lines are expensive and dangerous to maintain. He furthermore, stressed that more renewables and alternative fuels mean less dependency on non-EU energy sources, which in turn increases resilience, energy strategic autonomy and operational efficiency.
“On their path to energy sustainability, EU Member States’ armed forces are also strongly supported by EDA. This is in line with the primary mission of EDA which is to support the development of European defence capabilities and facilitate defence cooperation among its Member States”, he said.
He went on to say that the Agency also invests significant efforts in promoting clean energy solutions, reducing environmental risks and fighting climate change, notably via the Energy and Environment Working Group, the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector and the upcoming Incubation Forum on Circular Economy in European Defence.
Through these pillars, he said, the Agency contributes to the implementation of the European Green Deal, specifically through the Climate Change and Defence Roadmap, the first EU action plan to address the links between defence and climate change.
Referring to examples he said that the Cyprus Ministry has developed the first verified environmental management system in a military camp in Cyprus, and all new facilities at the national military camps will be designed based on green and ecological principles.
“I am pleased to learn that EDA’s work has helped the Ministry to benefit from the best practices of other member states and enhance its energy performance. In this respect, I want to highlight an exemplary involvement of the Cyprus Ministry in the energy and environment work strands at EDA and I am looking forward to deepening further our collaboration”, he added.
Sedivy finally said that EDA stands ready to continue supporting the member states in this ambitious task of addressing climate change and having a smooth transition to greener energy, while ensuring the operational effectiveness of armed forces.