U.S. military is world’s ‘single largest producer’ of greenhouse gases – report
The report, from Brown University’s ‘Costs of War’ project, focuses specifically on "post-9/11 wars" and their impact on emissions. It estimates the US military has been responsible for 1,212 million metric tons of greenhouse gases between 2001 and 2017. Emissions from “overseas contingency operations” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria accounted for more than 400 million metric tons of CO2. In 2017 alone, the report says, “the Pentagon's emissions were greater than all emissions from Sweden or Denmark.”
The effects of climate change will soon be “feeding political tensions and fueling mass migrations and refugee crises,” the report says, noting that the military has already added climate change to its list of national security concerns.
The researchers criticized the Pentagon for acknowledging the threat of climate change to national security, but failing to acknowledge "that its own fuel use is a major contributor.” They also accused "some elements" within the Trump administration of being "in various modes of climate denial.”
While the military received praise for making some effort to decrease its energy consumption, including by gradually replacing some non-tactical fleet vehicles with hybrid, plug-in or alternative fuel vehicles, reducing idling, and developing solar installations at some bases, the report says there is “room for more reductions.”
The study found seven major sources of greenhouse gas emissions relating to US military activities, including from installations and non-war operations, war-related emissions and emissions from the production of weapons. Emissions caused by the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure in war zones and the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties to war have also been factored in.
The authors also question whether the huge US presence in the Persian Gulf is necessary, since the US itself is less dependent on the region's oil than in the past and does not necessarily need to “protect the global flow” of oil.
One of the recommendations was that the Pentagon should report its fuel consumption to Congress annually, information which is currently “explicitly withheld.”
The researchers also recommended that each military installation should draw up plans to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent by 2022, and advised increased use of alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles and renewable energy. The Pentagon should also identify which military and national guard bases could be closed, whether due to climate change impacts or diminished threats.
The US military must urgently "reduce their role" in creating greenhouse gas emissions as a matter of national security, the report urged, concluding that if it takes bold actions to reduce fossil fuel use, there could be “enormous positive implications” for the climate.