The Pentagon emits more greenhouse gases than Portugal, study finds

US military operations released about 59 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017

US military operations released about 59 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017

A new study has revealed that the United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its military operations alone than industrialised countries such as Sweden and Portugal.

Boston University professor Neta C. Crawford details the U.S. Department of Defense's massive contributions to the global climate emergency in a paper (pdf) published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for worldwide and Public Affairs.

If the Pentagon was a country, its emissions would make it the world's 55th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, ahead of Portugal (which is ranked 57th) and Sweden (ranked 65th), said Neta Crawford, the study's author and a political scientist at Boston University.

"The U.S. military's energy consumption drives total U.S. government energy consumption", the paper reads.

It estimates the U.S. military has been responsible for 1,212 million metric tons of greenhouse gases between 2001 and 2017. "These greenhouse gases, combined with other USA emissions, will help guarantee the nightmare scenarios that the military predicts and that many climate scientists say are possible".

Back in January, the Pentagon branded climate change "a national security issue" in a report to Congress and has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

The study found seven major sources of greenhouse gas emissions relating to U.S. military activities, including from installations and non-war operations, war-related emissions and emissions from the production of weapons.

This may be because the US spent $700 billion on its military in Fiscal Year 2019, more than the spending of Russian Federation and China combined. "Cutting Pentagon greenhouse gas emissions will help save lives in the United States, and could diminish the risk of climate conflict".

Transporting troops and using weapons accounted for about 70% of the energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel, said Crawford.

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 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.

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