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Let’s Go Green: France is Ready to Make its Army more Sustainable

27 October 2020

The military sector has a huge impact on the environment; of particular concern are the legacy issues associated with military installations, as well as the exemptions from environmental oversight that militaries often enjoy (Ministére des Armées, 2019).

In the European context, Member States’ Armed Forces are the largest energy consumers. Despite this, defence budgets and military effectiveness is growing tremendously therefore raising the risk of continued environmental decay. (Barnotte, 2020). 

In view of the EU Green Deal and the energy parameters to be reached by 2050, Member States are starting to take action for the green revolution of military capabilities. Amongst these, French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly is taking steps forward by proposing an “energy strategy” this summer.

On the 25
th of September, Minister Parly had a declaration speech in which they presented the new strategy and stated its relevance within the French military for upcoming years. She talks about the importance of a green revolution endorsed by the EU, stressing on the fact that armies should anticipate their results and invest in modernization.

Energy efficiency is pivotal for improving military capabilities, unit autonomy, and operational resilience on the battlefield. This strategy must serve operations by reducing vulnerability and by steadily decreasing dependence on fossil fuels. This plan comes with a three-part slogan stating: “consume less, consume better, consume safely”(Barnotte, 2020).

Parly reiterates the importance of consuming less in military infrastructures and limiting growth. France has made it a goal to decrease the military’s footprint in the past few years. There is still a lot to do when it comes to increasing the standards of energy performance, and this goal is to be reached very soon by the ministry (Parly, 2020).  The ministry has been successful in the reduction of gas emissions and the cessation of the most polluting energy utilization. For this reason, 1600 heavy fuel oil boilers will be phased out by 2030 (Léo, 2020).

Another important project advanced by the ministry is the “Eco Camp 2025”. The aim of this camp is to create more autonomous programs, to reduce consumptions.

Minister Parly thinks it is highly important for soldiers to develop “eco-reflexes”: she wants more responsibility and an army that is reflective of recycling programs and innovative in energy consumption optimization.  (Parly, 2020).

Another part of the plan is the introduction of hybrid and electrical systems in the army. These tools are also considered to be advantageous against the adversary and therefore more resilient. The introduction of new hybrid/electrical tools comes with the implementation of new software to monitor and plan the reduction of energy consumptions. France is ready to take these steps by investing part of the budget.

France, however, does not want to be alone in this process of green modernization and transition. Another aim of the ministry is to launch a permanent structured cooperation within the European Union (with Spain, Italy and Belgium) surrounding the “Operational energy function”. France is also proposing the creation of a “European purchasing centre” for petroleum products for the benefit of the forces (Parly, 2020; Barnotte, 2020).

In terms of secure consumption, France believes that energy transition and research of alternative energy resources come into play when looking at current political tensions in the field of energy and around the dependence on natural resources. New energy approaches can build strategic autonomy.

However, the ministry acknowledges the fact that the energy and numeric transition generate new dependences: mineral, critical metals, rare lands and lithium. The search for these materials can bring further tensions, therefore further action should be taken carefully (Parly, 2020).

Another problem comes to possible threats in the field of cyber: more energy and more numeric equipment to ensure the production and the distribution, is also more potential entries to attack and impeach military actions. (Parly, 2020).

A final remark made by Parly is that energy transitions are not intended to be in total, oil remains a major stake for the armies, as it is the main energy for mobility.

Written by Gisella Duro, Communication and Public Relations Team at Finabel – European Army Interoperability Centre


Barotte, N. (2020), Les armées se dotent d’une stratégie énergétique, Le Figaro, 3rd July 2020.

Léo, F. (2020), Varennes-sur-Seine : le ministère des Armées emprunte la voie verte, Le Parisien, 25th September 2020.

Ministére des Armées (2019), Environnement : quand le kaki vire au vert, Youtube, 2019.

Parly, F. (2020), Déclaration de Mme Florence Parly, ministre des armées, sur la stratégie énergétique de défense, à Varennes-sur-Seine le 25 septembre 2020, Vie Republique, 29th September 2020.