Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Montreal will host NATO’s new climate centre as radical climate change evolves into a serious security risk for the military alliance.
Canada will also host the new North American headquarters of NATO’s tech centre, but he declined to say why the government has not contributed to the novel €1-billon fund associated with the alliance’s innovation project.
“We continue to be in discussions,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference Thursday at the close of the NATO summit in Madrid, referring to the talks to set up the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) in Canada and the accelerator’s investment structure.
He would not say where DIANA would be located. Reports have suggested Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo area, one of Canada’s top research and development centres, could be high on the list.
The new Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence is a Canadian initiative Mr. Trudeau proposed at the 2021 NATO summit. It will become Canada’s first NATO research centre.
Mr. Trudeau also said Canada will send more troops to Latvia as part of NATO’s ambitious effort to shore up its vulnerable eastern flank on, or close to, the Russian border. But he did not say how many more Canadian troops would be deployed beyond the nearly 700 already stationed there. “There will be more,” he said.
Canada has pledged to help Latvia raise the size of the NATO forces in that country to brigade level, roughly 3,000 troops, though the troops would come from many alliance member states.
Mr. Trudeau said Canada is in the final stages of talks to supply Ukraine with up to 39 armoured combat support vehicles to help it fight off Russia. They had been destined for the Canadian Army, but will be diverted to Ukraine. He said all the equipment sent to Ukraine would be replaced “as quickly as possible” so the Canadian military would not go short.
He also pledged to give Ukraine six Canadian-made drone cameras, to complement the roughly 20 cameras sent earlier this year. He said the cameras “have been incredibly useful in protecting Ukrainians.”
Separately, Defence Minister Anita Anand downplayed accusations from the media that Canada’s defence spending was actually in decline, even though statistics produced by NATO itself suggest it is. She said Canada’s spending is to rise by 70 per cent over a nine-year period that began in 2017.
NATO wants member states to contribute the equivalent of 2 per cent of GDP to defence spending. Canadian spending has been nowhere close to that figure and falls near the bottom of NATO’s country tally. The alliance estimates the Canadian figure this year will be only 1.27 per cent of GDP, down from 1.36 per cent in 2021.
DIANA will meld NATO’s top tech minds with those of tech companies and scientists to create dual-use products – those that can be useful for military and civilian applications. They would include batteries that can survive extreme temperatures as global warming accelerates and new protective fabrics for combat uniforms.
The fund will invest in startup companies to speed up development of the products. NATO bills it as the world’s first multisovereign venture capital fund. So far, 24 of NATO’s 30 member states have agreed to contribute to the fund, leaving Canada in the minority of those that have not stepped up.
The new NATO climate centre in Montreal will acknowledge that drought, extreme heat and rising water levels can create human misery, including hunger, starvation and mass migration of afflicted people, that can lead to conflict.
Ottawa has said the centre “will be a platform through which both military actors and civilians will develop, enhance and share knowledge on climate change security effects. It will also allow participants to work together to build required capabilities and best practices and contribute to NATO’s goal of reducing the climate impact of our military activities.”
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.