CEOBS is a UK charity that works to research and publicise environmental data, develop methodologies to improve data collection and analysis, and scrutinise and contribute to developments in law and policy intended to reduce the environmental harm caused by conflicts and military activities.
Concrete Impacts is a UKRI-Economic Social Research Council funded collaboration between Lancaster and Durham Universities examining the socio-ecological effects of military supply chains and their wider environmental footprints. Contact Principle Investigator, Benjamin Neimark: firstname.lastname@example.org, Co-Investigator Dr Oliver Belcher.
Why is military emissions reporting a priority for climate action?
Exemptions from international agreements mean that militaries have lagged behind other sectors for too long, despite their high consumption of fossil fuels, vast global expenditure and large supply chains. A recent estimate from CEOBS and Scientists for Global Responsibility suggests that
militaries are responsible for 5.5% of global GHG emissions. But this is only an estimate, and doesn’t include the emissions resulting from warfighting. Better reporting is needed so that the scale of military emissions can be better understood and managed.
Why are you not calling for disarmament?
This issue has gone from being completely ignored to becoming an agenda item for NATO, and raised in UNFCCC and IPCC meetings. There is still a very long way to go and the ‘solution’ includes pragmatic measures to take this forward, and engaging a wide range of stakeholders. It is likely that governments will have to decide on how large their militaries can be, and
their mission priorities, if they are to substantially reduce their emissions. Transparent reporting is the first step to verifiable emissions reduction targets and we need all stakeholders to engage on the importance and urgency of improving emissions reporting.
How can you get all states to engage with emissions reporting?
A number of states are starting to engage with emissions reporting, but it will undoubtedly be challenging to encourage all countries to report and significantly reduce their military GHG emissions. According to the IPCC, we need immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors to
limit warming to 1.5°C. We do not have the luxury of time to wait for an ideological position. We need states to commit to leadership on both military emissions reporting and cuts, to achieve a level playing field on how emissions are transparently measured, reported and verified.
Should militaries be aiming for Net Zero?
We are seeing more and more militaries publishing climate strategies and setting net zero targets. However targets and pledges are framed, the focus must be on avoiding and reducing emissions, rather than relying on carbon offsetting or technologies which are not yet developed to deliver on scale,
such as sustainable aviation fuel. Carbon offsetting must not be used as a substitute for reducing military GHG emissions at source. We are working on a checklist to assess military climate strategies, which will provide a framework for scrutinizing military climate strategies.
Which stakeholders do you engage with?
We engage with a range of stakeholders, including the peace and environmental movements, academia, and militaries themselves.
The peace and environmental movements have the opportunity to demand action from their governments through mass mobilisation and advocacy within their countries. Academia is also key- the IPCC is influential within the UNFCCC, and the IPCC is driven by research. This is an under-researched area due to a lack of attention and this needs to change.
Militaries have the potential to be influential in pushing this issue within Governments. Some military personnel are even more engaged on this issue than many policymakers are, and have essential knowledge of the sector.
This is an issue which ranges across movements and into industry, and engaging a range of stakeholders is key to enabling change.