Climate change stopping soldiers from training, warns military’s green tsar

·2-min read
Coldstream Guards training in Kenya - Anthony Upton
Coldstream Guards training in Kenya - Anthony Upton

The military’s green tsar has said climate change is stopping soldiers from exercises as it is increasingly “too hot to train”.

Lt Gen Nugee, who advises the Ministry of Defence on making areas of defence more sustainable, warned that on land, a warm year in the 2000s will “broadly” become a typical year in the 2040s.

He said this in turn will impact the military’s “ability to train, as we lose more days to being too hot to train”.

“In Cyprus, the projection is that all training will be lost in August to heat,” he said.

In a speech at the Defence and Security Equipment International, Lt Gen Nugee referenced a recent study by the UK Met Office which identified that in temperate climates the number of days lost to training due to increases in temperatures is likely to rise by between 75 and 150 per cent by 2040.

However, Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons’ defence select committee, said that when he served as a soldier he was sent to Cyprus ahead of a deployment to Kuwait in order to acclimatise and urged the military to “adapt” to extreme climates, rather than becoming susceptible “too hot to train”.

Mr Ellwood said: “Increasing global temperatures does present new challenges to ensuring we have acclimatised troops to meet our Africa and Middle East commitments. But the answer is to learn to adapt, keep our troops healthy and hydrated rather than close down for a month. Our adversaries won’t stop for the weather and neither should we.”

Soldiers who are currently deployed on the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, where temperatures reach over 50C, also acclimatised in order to prevent heat-related injuries before they deployed to the Sahel.

UK troops deployed to Mali seize a cache of weapons hidden by suspected Daesh terrorists
UK troops deployed to Mali seize a cache of weapons hidden by suspected Daesh terrorists

Lt Gen Nugee also raised concerns that higher temperatures in the air resulted in reduced air density, which resulted in less effective aerodynamic lift. He said that the effect on take-off runs, in terms of reduced payloads and fuel capacity and reduced climb rates meant that “increased runway length is one potential outcome”.

He added that climate change needed to be made a priority “for all kinds of reasons including recruitment”, as he said that there will be many potential recruits who debate a career with the Armed Forces based on its commitment to tackling climate change.

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