North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) unveiled on Tuesday its first emissions targets, aiming to reduce civilian and military greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.
“It will not be easy, but it can be done,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a speech on the sidelines of the NATO summit which started Tuesday in Madrid, Spain.
NATO targets include the alliance’s own assets, such as AWACS surveillance planes, drones based in Italy, and its headquarters in Brussels, as well as military headquarters in other locations such as Mons (Belgium), Naples (Italy), and Brunssum (the Netherlands).
At the same time, NATO is also seeking to help allies in decreasing the carbon footprints of their national forces. However, according to research published by Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Boston University, military emissions are frequently exempted from nations’ emission reduction targets.
For instance, United States Department of Defense is not only the single largest consumer of the energy in the country, but also the world’s largest institutional consumer of petroleum.
According to research commissioned by the European Parliament in 2021, the carbon footprint of EU military in 2019 was around 24.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, roughly the same as the carbon emissions from approximately 14 million cars.
A main battle tank such as Germany’s Leopard 2 consumes 400 liters of diesel in the battlefield to go only 100 kilometers, reported Reuters, citing an insider who refused to be named.
Stoltenberg remarked that lowering military emissions would not only benefit the environment but would also improve military vehicles. “I believe that the most advanced military vehicles and the most resilient armed forces of the future would be those that do not rely on fossil fuels,” he added.