-If the US military were a country, it would have the 47th highest greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than the emissions of Sweden, Denmark and Portugal combined, Kleven says.
– Huge amounts of fossil fuels
Located in Bergen, the Berknes Center for Climate Research is “one of the largest climate research centers in the natural sciences in Europe, with more than 200 researchers from more than 30 countries,” according to the center’s website.
Kleven tells of a close connection between war and climate change.
-War locks in demand for oil, gas and coal, preventing the phase-out of fossil fuels. Additionally, the military uses massive amounts of fossil fuels, which directly contribute to global warming, Kleven points out.
– When countries modernize, the use of fossil fuels increases – with or without conflict.
– Even in peacetime, the military consumes huge amounts of energy and is responsible for significant emissions.
On that occasion, Kleven refers to the report “EEstimating the military’s global greenhouse gas emissions» From November 2022, prepared by scientists associated with Scientists for Global Responsibility and the Conflict and Environment Observatory.
Here it appears that the total carbon footprint of the world’s military forces is about 5.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The researchers also believe it is “very likely” that emissions will grow as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Military and climate extremes
In this report, we can also read that about 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from just ten countries. They are China, the United States, India, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Iran, Canada and Saudi Arabia.
All of these countries – with the exception of Indonesia – are simultaneously among the 20 countries in the world with the highest military spending.
It is also noted that among the second largest emitting countries there are several countries with large military budgets and/or a large number of active military personnel. Among them we find South Korea and Turkey.
China, which, according to the report, is the world’s worst offender of climate crimes with 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, also has the world’s largest army, consisting of more than two million soldiers.
The United States and India, which are second only to China in terms of emissions, also have huge armies, estimated at about 1.4 million soldiers each.
In all, nearly 20 million people around the world are full-time soldiers, according to the report.
Many of them had to feel the horror of war on their bodies last year. At the time, there were 56 interstate wars or civil wars around the world, according to the Peace Research Institute (PRIU).
Increased use of fossil fuels
– In order to effectively combat climate change, we all need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels in the first place, emphasizes Kiki Kleven of the Perknes Center for Climate Research.
But the Norwegian defense sector used more fossil fuels last year than the year before.
Fuel consumption of defense sector vehicles, aircraft, boats and groups reached more than 93 million liters in 2022.
“This represents an increase of approximately 3 percent compared to 2021,” the Defense Sector Environmental and Climate Account 2022 report, prepared by the Defense Research Institute (FFI), stated.
This again indicates that the defense sector increased its consumption of fossil fuels by about 2.7 million liters from 2021 to 2022.
“Consumption on board ships and aircraft represents approximately 90 percent of the total fuel consumption in this sector,” the FFI notes in the annual report.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the defense sector amounted to 257,084 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent last year, according to the FFI.
This figure includes emissions from vehicles, aircraft and boats, as well as emissions associated with electricity production and district heating/cooling.
When emissions associated with things like business travel, purchases of goods and services and waste are included, defense sector emissions last year increased to 1,279,607 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the FFI.
Approximately 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
By comparison, Norway’s total greenhouse gas emissions last year were 48.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to Statistics Norway.
– More difficult modification
The government has set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this country by at least 55 percent by 2030.
At the same time, the government is keen to significantly increase the defense budget.
Prime Minister Jonas Jahr Sture (AP), Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vidum (SP) and Defense Minister Björn Arild Gram (SP) announced in May that Norway must meet the NATO target of allocating 2 percent of GDP to defense by 2026.
This means billions of extra kroner for the defense sector, which still relies mainly on fossil fuels.
Securing our freedom is one of the most important tasks of any government. (…) Russia’s aggressive war on Ukraine poses a threat to Norwegian and European security, Defense Minister Björn Arild Gramm said of this spending, in a government press release.
Kiki Kleven of the Perknes Climate Research Center points out that the Russian attack on Ukraine has led to “death, a refugee crisis and a growing global food crisis.”
But the war has also led to massive destruction of nature and the environment, and shows us how wars and conflicts destroy biodiversity and contribute to the climate crisis, Kleven points out.
– With each passing day, it will become more difficult for Ukraine to restore society and the environment, especially the ability to implement a green transition away from fossil fuels.
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