Sustainability in armed forces a win-win for defence

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Promoting sustainability in the armed forces is a win-win approach for the Defence sector and Europe, said Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides, addressing a Climate Change and Security conference in Larnaca.

“The armed forces can reduce expenses in energy and would benefit from greater availability of resources to key objectives from the operational point of view.

“This is of utmost importance, especially if we consider it is estimated that the annual costs of energy consumption in Armed Forces in Europe are more than one billion euro,” said Petrides.

He 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 share of renewable energy, contributing to the wider efforts of Cyprus to meet its energy targets for 2030.

“The Ministry of Defence 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.”

In December 2005, the Cyprus Ministry of Defence established its Environmental Committee, which in June 2006 published its first Defence Environmental Policy.

Cyprus’ Environment Action Plan includes monitoring and managing environmental and energy activities by applying and implementing a verified Environmental Management System in six major military camps, energy efficiency programs, and Renewable Energy Sources (photovoltaic -PV) development.

Plus a waste recycling programme, hazardous and non-hazardous waste management programmes and organic waste to energy programs.

Petrides said his ministry was determined to identify solutions and apply best practices, exchange ideas and lessons learned to increase energy resilience and autonomy with the support of the European Union’s institutions and agencies.

He argued the region has already witnessed the results of climate change; 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 green and sustainable energy is becoming more significant for the military, especially because it brings additional benefits.

He added that the transition away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy models should be the key objective for the defence sector, especially in battlefields where supply lines are expensive and dangerous to maintain.

Furthermore, he stressed that more renewables and alternative fuels mean less dependency on non-EU energy sources, which increases resilience, strategic energy 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.”

The Agency also invests significant effort in promoting clean energy solutions, reducing environmental risks and fighting climate change.

“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.

“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.”

Sedivy 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 operational effectiveness.