More than 200 representatives from the defence and energy communities participated in the first-ever joint defence and energy meeting, organised by the European Defence Agency and European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy. This virtual meeting was held on 14 April in the context of the third phase of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS III).
Considering the EU's objectives for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and with a view to enhancing the energy resilience of the armed forces, the defence sector needs to benefit from the energy community's know-how. This joint meeting has brought defence and energy experts together and enabled them to exchange views and best practices on strengthening cooperation in tackling energy security challenges. These discussions also explored how to contribute better to implementing the European Green Deal and the transition to clean and secure energy.
Defence adaption for climate-neutral future
In his welcome address, the EDA Chief Executive, Mr Jiří Šedivý, noted “the high interest of the two communities in establishing contact, sharing insights in tackling energy and climate challenges and exploring how to complement efforts to advance sustainable energy.” He also acknowledged that defence, as an “energy-intensive and large consumer of fossil energy with most of its buildings being energy inefficient”, needs to adapt to “the changing environment and safeguard its sustainability by reducing greenhouse gas emissions”. Here, the energy community experts can assist by “sharing their knowledge, providing technical assistance, and helping defence in voicing its requirements at the national and EU level and facilitating access to national funds,” he said. “We need the support of the energy community to remove barriers that constrain defence adaptability and ensure its transition to the EU’s climate-neutral future,” Mr Šedivý concluded.
In her keynote speech, the Director-General of DG Energy, European Commission, Ms Ditte Juul Jørgensen briefly explained the most recent initiatives launched within the framework of the European Green Deal. She stressed the importance of the EU Recovery Package and of the two flagships referring to energy. She also acknowledged the excellent results achieved by the CF SEDSS in the last years. Finally she pointed out to the key role that the Defence and Security sector needs to play in the process: “A stronger focus on sustainability shall not mean less effective armed forces; rather the contrary”. Conversely she noted that the concept of “strategic autonomy” is quickly spreading from its original domain in the defence industry to wider technologies and the energy sector. “The Commission is eager to support the ideas for further cooperation that will be developed today and in the following meetings“, Ms Ditte Juul Jørgensen concluded.
Balancing military requirements and the green transition
The panellists shared their insights on the EU’s all-inclusive approach to addressing climate change and energy challenges by focusing on how the armed forces can contribute to implementing the European Green Deal and how the energy community can support them in their transition towards clean and secure energy. Panel discussions also explored how to balance military priorities and climate change adaptation and pave the way to a framework that facilitates multinational collaboration and supports green defence projects with appropriate expertise and funding.
Next conference in 2021
The 2nd CF SEDSS III conference will be held virtually on 16-17 June 2021 under the auspices of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, hosted by the Portuguese Ministry of National Defence.