By Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold
BRUSSELS/BERLIN – If the US military were a nation-state, it would be the world's 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which warm the planet, according to a 2019 study.
Although the British Universities of Lancaster and Durham only considered emissions from fuel consumption in their study, they pointed to the enormous influence of the armed forces around the world on the earth's climate.
In the fight against global warming, NATO made it a central planning and strategy focus for the first time.
The leaders of the Western military alliance want to agree on a climate protection plan on Monday to make their armed forces climate neutral by 2050 and to adapt to the threats posed by global warming.
NATO Diplomats say efforts to focus on climate change were undone during Donald Trump's US presidency. He called climate change a “hoax” and pulled the United States out of the international Paris Agreement to combat climate change.
Trump also expressed a lack of confidence in the North Atlantic Pact organization, threatening the United States' withdrawal from the alliance formed in 1949 to contain a Soviet military threat in 2018.
Now that US President Joe Biden is making climate protection a priority, the diplomats said NATO was able to respond to concerns that climate change poses a threat to both transatlantic security and Alliance personnel.
“This is a critical challenge of our time and we must be an organization to lead it,” a senior European NATO Diplomat told Reuters.
NATO The militaries of member states have long recognized that climate change will have a huge security impact, which is likely to include increased migration and coastal flooding NATO Bases and a greater Russian presence in the Arctic when the sea ice melts.
However, in order to reduce their own climate-warming emissions from the use of fossil fuels, the member states need a reform at the heart of the alliance, because NATO sets fuel standards across the company.
By pledging to get rid of his network CO2 Emissions by 2050, NATOThe organization's action plan would guide the organization on the path to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 ° F).
Achieving this goal means reducing military emissions, which are often exempt from countries' CO2 emissions targets – no easy task for the US Department of Defense, the world's largest consumer of oil, according to a study by Neta Crawford of Boston University Year 2019.
While experts say EU countries do not adequately report emissions from national militaries, a study commissioned by the European Parliament in February calculated that the carbon footprint of EU military spending was around 24.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 – about as much as CO2 Emissions from around 14 million cars.
A German defense expert who refused to be named said a main battle tank like the German Leopard 2 swallowed 400 liters of diesel in the field to travel just 100 km (62 miles). According to a 2020 report by the International Energy Agency, the average fuel consumption of a light civil vehicle in the United States in 2018 was 9.4 liters per 100 km.
The tank war also risks getting tougher amid global warming. During one NATO Exercise in Poland in 2019, temperatures in German ocelot tanks rose to over 40 degrees Celsius and soldiers could only spend a few hours in them, a military source said.
Something NATO Allies are working on reducing electricity consumption or integrating climate prediction models into military missions. Germany has its first climate-neutral barracks, which generates almost all of its energy from geothermal energy and solar panels. The Dutch military can use solar panels instead of diesel generators when in action.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have described climate change as a “crisis multiplier”.
Military officials also expect more operations in climate-endangered regions as troops are deployed to combat climate-related natural disasters. Such a crisis management is one of the NATOone of the company's basic tasks, as it is able to provide food quickly, as well as logistical and medical support.
In 2018, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, eight of the ten countries in which the highest number of employees are involved in multilateral peace missions were in areas that are highly exposed to climate change.
The Allies are also testing more equipment to operate in extreme cold. The durability of assets on the battlefield has always been a priority, European defense sources told Reuters.
Stoltenberg, a former UN special envoy on climate change, pushed for one NATO Climate deal after Biden replaced Trump, diplomats said. Allies still have to decide how much climate-related investments they should jointly finance NATO.
“The security community is now seeing more clearly that climate change is a driver of conflict,” said Jamie Shea, a former senior NATO now officially at the Think Tank Friends of Europe in Brussels.
Since military installations take decades to develop and have a longer lifespan than civilian vehicles, one of the NATOIn the medium term, experts believe that the largest contribution will be made by synthetic fuels instead of fossil fuels.
Made from water CO2 and renewable energies, synthetic fuels do not cause any sulfur or nitrogen pollution and still have a high energy density. NATO‘s standard fuel for powering aircraft or ships is kerosene, one of the more polluting fuels.
The German military, the Bundeswehr, could start adding synthetic fuel to conventional fuel in a few years' time.
However, electric tanks are not an option.
“It will prove difficult to install charging stations on the battlefield in good time before the start of the fighting,” said a German defense source who did not want to be named.