The extent of the greenhouse gas emitted by the Pentagon has been revealed, with the US defence department releasing more emissions than either Sweden and Portugal.
Shocking new research from Brown University’s Costs of War Project, reveals how the Pentagon is the 55th largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world, if ranked as a country. Portugal and Sweden – actual countries – are ranked 57th and 65th respectively.
In 2017 alone, the Pentagon emitted approximately 59 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. As a comparison, the British Ministry of Defence released just one million metric tons during the same time period.
As reported by this study – entitled Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War – the US spends more on its military forces than any other nation on the planet. A sum of $700 billion was authorised for 2019, with the same amount again having been requested for 2020.
The Pentagon is accountable for approximately 80 per cent of the total energy consumption of the US government.
The use and movement of troops and weaponry made around 70 per of energy consumption by the Pentagon, the majority of which has been attributed to burning jet and diesel fuel.
The Pentagon has significantly slashed fuel consumption since 2009, improving the efficiency of vehicles and doubling renewable power generation during the time period 2011 to 2015. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Study author Neta Crawford has spoken of how further fossil fuel reduction would allow the American government to ‘decrease its military spending and reorient the economy to more economically productive activities’.
Crawford – who is a Professor of Political Science at Boston University – has stressed the importance of the Pentagon rethinking fuel-heavy missions:
The US has an important public policy decision to make. Do we continue to orient our foreign policy and military force posture toward ensuring access to fossil fuels?
Or do we dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels, including the military’s own dependency, and
thus reduce the perceived need to preserve access to oil resources?
In January of this year, the Pentagon described climate change as being ‘a national security issue’ within a report to congress, giving various urgent recommendations to the American government.
Carbon emission reductions at the Pentagon, and indeed the US as a whole, would undoubtedly help towards working towards improving global security and stability in the long term.
As the second biggest offender – next to China – the US government has a responsibility to evaluate what changes can be made, and quickly.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.