A 2019 study discovered that if the U.S. military were a nation state, it would rank as the planet’s 47th largest contributor of planet-warming greenhouses.
While the British universities of Durham and Lancaster only considered emissions from fuel usage in their 2019 study, it did highlight the massive impact armed forces have on the planet’s climate. Battling global warming, NATO for the first time, has made it a central focus of strategy and planning. Leaders of the Western military alliance have agreed to a climate action plan that makes their armed forces carbon-neutral by 2050. The agreement, recently concluded enables the armed forces adapt to the threats posed by global warming.
NATO diplomats have states efforts to concentrate on climate change were preciously stymied during Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency. The former president stated climate change was a “hoax” and pulled the United States out of the international Paris Agreement to fight climate change.
He also expressed a lack of trust in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, threatening in 2018 to withdraw the United States from the alliance created in 1949 as a means to contain a Soviet military threat.
Now, with U.S. President Joe Biden prioritising climate action, NATO diplomats have stated that it is able to act on concerns that climate change not only poses a threat to alliance personnel but also transatlantic security.
“This is a defining challenge of our time, and we must be an organisation that leads on it,” a senior European NATO diplomat was quoted saying.
NATO member states’ militaries have long known that climate change is bound to have massive security implications, with increased migration, flooding at coastal NATO bases and a larger Russian presence in the Artic due to melting sea ice part of the consequences.
However, in order to lower their own climate-warming emissions derived from fossil fuel use, these member states will need to reform the alliance due to the fact that it sets fuel standards across the organisation.
By making a commitment to eliminate its net CO2 emissions by 2050, NATO’s action plan can align the organisation with the goal of delivering on the Paris Agreement.
Achieving that Aim would mean lowering military emission that were typically exempted from a nation’s carbon emissions target. This is no mean feat for the U. S’s Department of Defence which is the world’s largest consumer of petroleum. This is according to a 2019 study conduced by Neta Crawford of Boston University
While scientists state that EU countries tend to under-report the emissions their national militaries record, a study commissioned by the European Parliament calculated back in February that the carbon footprint of EU military expenditure in 2019 was about 24.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – about the same as the CO2 emissions released by around 14 million cars.
A German defence expert, who declined to be named, stated that a main battle tank like the Leopard 2 of Germany, consumes 400 litres (106 gallons) of diesel in the field simply to cover 100 km (62 miles). A 2020 report by the International Energy Agency stated that the average consumption in the U.S. of a light-duty civilian vehicle was record at 9.4 litres per 100 km in 2018, according to a 2020 International Energy Agency report.
As initially reported by Reuters