Renewable Energy and National Security

The transition to renewable energy has many security implications. This is recognized by the U.S. military pursuing a dedicated renewable energy strategy (see, e. g., this thinktank study, also discussed here). A good general introduction is Bengt Johansson 2013. Security aspects of future renewable energy systems – A short overview. However, I have a slightly different thought about a possible renewable energy related change in international security relations. I have not read about that idea, but it likely has been published by others already. Nevertheless:

Let us briefly follow the line of nationalistic, “my country first” thinking. We currently feel at national liberty to freely decide whether we live at the expense of future generations or whether we respect ethical and planetary boundaries. Is this assumption correct?

Imagine that one country is polluting the environment at the expense of neighboring countries. Which level of rogue behavior would lead neighboring countries to resort to economic military threats? Imagine North Korea exploding dirty atomic bombs every time the wind blows towards South Korea. Would this result in – possibly nuclear – military threats?

Imagine that the majority of human societies has finally understood that atmospheric pollution and the resulting drastic climate change is causing a threat to the entire human civilization. Powerful countries, who nationally have achieved climate neutrality, might threaten rogue countries, who fail to do so.

Now imagine your own country, with its climate destruction and non-sustainable behavior (sadly, I know this, even though I do not know where you live…) is time-ported into such a situation. First an an economic blockade would be enacted. How would your country fare? Without access to imported fossil fuels, imported minerals and imported foods? And trying to exploit national reserves, like the super-polluting lignite coal might cause global powers to issue military threats.

Make no mistake: your country cannot simply build the renewable energy generation and storage plants on the fly. Building a sustainable society requires a huge investment in energy, money, and labor. It takes decades to complete.

Clean, sustainable national energy production is a security asset. One that has to be built over decades.

PS: Renewable energy supply might even be a question of financial security? Given that mineral and food resources are fairly obtainable in the future, albeit at ever higher energy investments, one of my wilder believes is that in the future the value of all financial securities might be closely tied to the amount of energy a country can generate.

(© Gregor Hagedorn 2018, CC BY-SA 4.0, first publ. 2018-09-11, last updated 2018-09-11. Top image: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

1 thought on “Renewable Energy and National Security

  1. i really like your piece. keep it up


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