NATO aims to decrease both its military and nonmilitary greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The intergovernmental military alliance announced these targets during the NATO summit in Madrid on June 28.
“It will not be easy but it can be done,” said Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO.
NATO’s commitment to achieving CO2 neutrality by 2050 is in line with the Paris Agreement’s target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Among NATO assets that are included in its emissions targets are the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, its military headquarters in Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium, its AWACS planes, and its Italy-based drones.
The organization is also working on supporting its allies in decreasing the CO2 emissions of their national militaries.
However, countries often exempt their military emissions from their total CO2 emissions goals, while in fact, militaries are often among the largest emissions producers. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense is the biggest petroleum consumer globally, as indicated in a 2019 report.
Last year, the European Parliament commissioned research that showed that the CO2 footprint of EU militaries is 24.8 million tonnes in 2019. This is approximately as much as the carbon emissions from 14 million vehicles.
For just 100 kilometers, a main battle tank uses 400 liters of diesel, an insider who preferred to stay anonymous told Reuters.
Decreasing military emissions will both help counteract global warming and improve military vehicles, Stoltenberg said.
“I believe that in the future, the most advanced military vehicles, and the most resilient armed forces, will be those that do not rely on fossil fuels,” he said.