Canada will emerge from the NATO summit with two advantages: military alliance, climate and technology centers
Canada will play a key role in strengthening NATO’s innovation and shaping its response to climate change.
At the three-day NATO summit in Madrid, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian officials are expected to outline Canada’s willingness to launch DIANA – the North Atlantic Defense Innovation Accelerator – as well as the center Excellence Center on Climate Change and Security.
The Canadian moves come as Sweden and Finland reached a landmark deal with Turkey that will allow the two historically neutral Nordic countries, both fearful of Russian aggression, to join NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had opposed the fast-track admission for weeks, accusing them of supporting Turkish militant groups, particularly the PKK – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – which Turkey, along with Canada, the states United States and the European Union, considers a terrorist group.
On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg devoted the summit’s opening public forum largely to the threats of climate change. He announced an emissions reduction target of 45% for NATO operations by 2030 and net zero by 2050. “It won’t be easy, but it can be done,” he said. declared.
DIANA and the NATO Climate Center will each have offices in Canada, although their precise locations were not known on Tuesday, the opening day of the three-day summit. Toronto or Montreal seem the most likely locations for their headquarters.
NATO announced the formation of DIANA in April, but gave few details on the effort and only said that “Canada is actively considering hosting the North American regional office.” The alliance has already decided that the UK and Estonia will jointly host DIANA’s European office.
The launch of DIANA marks a new NATO initiative, merging alliance defense and technology personnel with technology companies and scientific researchers. The center and its associates will have access to dozens of technology accelerators and test sites among NATO countries.
Innovations to make NATO forces more adaptable to climate change will be the subject of a DIANA project. For example, the alliance wants batteries that can operate effectively in very hot climates and uniforms that can keep soldiers comfortable in extreme temperatures.
Artificial intelligence, big data processing, quantum technologies, biotechnology and new materials are other areas that DIANA will focus on.
“Working with the private sector and academia, allies will ensure that we can harness the best of new technologies for transatlantic security,” Stoltenberg said in April.
DIANA will be backed by a new fund, worth €1 billion (equivalent to nearly $1.4 billion), which NATO considers the first multi-sovereign venture capital fund, that would propel the alliance into the technology investment market.
Tech start-ups would be eligible for US$200,000 from the fund over a one-year period, said a Canadian defense official, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media .
So far, 24 of NATO’s 30 member states have agreed to contribute to the fund. Canada is not yet a contributor. The reasons for his lack of registration were not known on Tuesday. Canada has always lagged behind in defense spending. NATO wants member states to contribute the equivalent of 2% of GDP to defence. NATO estimates that the Canadian figure this year will be only 1.27%.
Neither Canadian officials from the NATO mission in Brussels nor Canada’s defense minister could be reached for comment on Tuesday.
At Tuesday’s public forum, Stoltenberg identified climate change as one of the significant threats facing the alliance. Climate change is a “crisis multiplier” that can trigger conflict, he said.
He wants NATO member states to reduce the carbon emissions of their militaries by using renewable fuels instead of oil; launch an assessment of how climate change, such as rising sea levels, could harm naval bases and other crucial military sites; and intensify climate monitoring and tracking systems to identify regions most at risk of extreme droughts, wildfires and famine.
Canada, through the Department of National Defense and Global Affairs Canada, has lobbied NATO to establish the Center of Excellence on Climate Change and Security for some time. NATO has endorsed the concept, which Trudeau unveiled at the 2021 NATO summit last month.
The site will be funded by Canada, although each NATO country will pay to send its climate experts to the Canadian site. The cost of establishing the office has not been disclosed.
In a press release issued in May, Ottawa said the center “will be a platform through which military and civilian actors will develop, improve and share their knowledge of the security impacts of climate change. It will also enable participants to work together to develop required capabilities and best practices and contribute to NATO’s goal of reducing the impact of our military activities on the climate.
Mr. Stoltenberg talked about the use of fuels like hydrogen to power military machinery. He said NATO could not lag behind other countries’ net zero goals. “It wouldn’t be good for the military if we remained the only fossil fuel industry in the world,” he said.
NATO has around 30 Centers of Excellence spread across member states. Canada contributes to half a dozen of them, including the cyber defense center in Estonia, which supports Ukraine in its war against Russia, and the strategic communications center in Latvia.
The text of the memorandum of understanding that would allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO, a move that would bolster the alliance’s relatively weak northeast flank, was not released on Tuesday evening, so It was not immediately clear what concessions, if any, the two countries made to break Turkey’s resistance.
“I am delighted to conclude this step on Finland’s road to NATO membership,” said a statement from the Finnish president’s office. “I now look forward to fruitful conversations about Finland’s role in NATO with our future allies here in Madrid.”
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