During a summit in Brussels, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) released a statement reaffirming that the alliance will be aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also acknowledged climate change as a security threat.
The alliance will also be examining if reaching net-zero emissions is viable by 2050. On top of this, it will also be researching how climate change will impact global security and what changes the alliance needs to make to operate in these conditions.
It is the first time that any major alliance has openly acknowledged climate change.
What Emissions Does NATO Release?
Due to the nature of the organization, no military shares their emissions in the world. They are exempt from doing so because the information can give operations information to foreign threats around the world.
That said, it hasn’t stopped people from making estimates.
For instance, back in 2019, a study was conducted to measure emissions released by the United States. The report concluded that if the US army was its own country, it would be the 47th biggest emitter in the world.
That’s just one NATO member.
And while the US is the largest member of NATO, there are still 29 other nations that need to be accounted for.
To this day, militaries are the largest consumer of hydrocarbons (fuel) in the world. And that will not be changing anytime soon. One of the main reasons is because military equipment has a very long shelf life.
For instance, think of fighter jets, those are not replaced on a year-to-year basis. Instead, they remain operational for years. As a result, these countries are going to be relying on fossil fuels for many years to come.
How Does Climate Change Impact NATO
Outside of wartime, one of the most common operations NATO participates is in disaster relief.
A well-documented side effect of climate change is that it makes extreme weather like hurricanes and flooding more common. This will mean the organization needs to be able to provide support more often.
On top of being more frequent, the storms are getting stronger.
For instance, hurricanes form over warm water. As the water continues to heat up while the temperature increases, hurricanes become more frequent and stronger because the water is warmer.
These weather conditions also affect personnel and military equipment, including critical infrastructure. Thus, lowering the effectiveness of the organization to respond to emergencies or threats.
Another concern is increasing the tension between countries.
In some areas of the world, water is very scarce and climate change is making that worse. If conditions continue to worsen, it could lead to military conflicts over these resources and freshwater control.
Climate change is a threat to everyone, including the military.
Unlikely to Change Any Time Soon
Making sure your country is safe is a top priority of any government. Pursuing green alternatives in certain areas of the military could have negative repercussions, security-wise, unless the entire world follows those rules.
While it is likely that emissions will go down over time from the military sector, they will not vanish.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.