A Time for Action and Alignment: Climate Security in Slovakia

Climate security remains a concern, but a tertiary one, for Slovakia. This is one conclusion drawn from recent interviews with various relevant experts in Slovakia conducted as part of a NATO-funded project of the Institute for Central Europe. The reasons behind the relative lack of tangible action in Slovakia on climate security does not lie so much with Slovak disinterest in climate security but in multiple competing priorities and a lack of direction in key partner institutions and allies. Fortunately, while the aforementioned issues present a strategic problem, at a more local level, Slovak industries have pushed ahead with initiatives that save on energy, diversify energy sources, and generally improve efficiency. A combination of incentives and disincentives have created this situation in the Slovak industry, and some have little to do with climate change. 

The Slovak Ministry of Defence has been assessing the implications of climate change for Slovakia’s security and defence, both at a domestic and international level. Consideration is being given to the global impacts of climate change as well as more specific effects in Slovakia in the context of its obligations through various international agreements and organizations such as NATO. A pressing concern is the arming of the Slovak military with modern equipment to deter Russian aggression and contribute to the collective security of NATO. With no NATO standardization on green technologies there is no emphasis on green technologies in Slovakia’s recent armoured vehicle acquisitions, and likely there will not be any in the near future either. The only way this may change is if critical NATO members like the USA truly embrace military greening and push norms across the Alliance. Until then, discussions around the greening of NATO militaries are likely to be unproductive.

Slovak defence industries, however, are very interested in green initiatives, and particularly those that can offer incentives and cost savings. The ongoing energy crisis is substantially increasing the rate of greening of defence production as companies take advantage of the EU funds to install less energy intensive equipment and on-site electrical generation through the use of photovoltaic panels. It is best practice for industry to engage in significant efficiency increases and cost decreases for financial reasons rather than due to purely climate security concerns. The intersection with EU subsidies for certain energy saving technologies is fortunate and potentially shows a mutually beneficial opportunity for cooperation between organizations ostensibly concerned with climate security and industry. Such synergies will only be possible for the defence industry where cost savings or financial incentives can be offered.