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The Elephant in the Room: The U.S. Military is One of the World’s Largest Sources of C02

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Washington’s Blog
Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2009

Sara Flounders writes:

By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy in general. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.

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The Feb. 17, 2007, Energy Bulletin detailed the oil consumption just for the Pentagon’s aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities that made it the single-largest oil consumer in the world.

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Even according to rankings in the 2006 CIA World Factbook, only 35 countries (out of 210 in the world) consume more oil per day than the Pentagon.

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This information is not readily available … because military emissions abroad are exempt from national reporting requirements under U.S. law and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change” …

Bryan Farrell in his new book, “The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism,” says that “the greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency … the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Just how did the Pentagon come to be exempt from climate agreements? At the time of the Kyoto Accords negotiations, the U.S. demanded as a provision of signing that all of its military operations worldwide and all operations it participates in with the U.N. and/or NATO be completely exempted from measurement or reductions.

After securing this gigantic concession, the Bush administration then refused to sign the accords.

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Although the U.S. had already received these assurances in the negotiations, the U.S. Congress passed an explicit provision guaranteeing U.S. military exemption. Inter Press Service reported on May 21, 1998: “U.S. law makers, in the latest blow to international efforts to halt global warming, today exempted U.S. military operations from the Kyoto agreement which lays out binding commitments to reduce ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions. The House of Representatives passed an amendment to next year’s military authorization bill that ‘prohibits the restriction of armed forces under the Kyoto Protocol.’”

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The Elephant in the Room: The U.S. Military is One of the Worlds Largest Sources of C02 251109banner

According to environmental journalist Johanna Peace … “The military accounts for a full 80 percent of the federal government’s energy demand.”

As I pointed out out last week:

Professor Michael Klare noted in 2007:

Sixteen gallons of oil. That’s how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis — either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.

And in 2008, Oil Change International released a report showing that:

  • The [Iraq] war is responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) since March 2003. To put this in perspective, CO2 released by the war to date equals the emissions from putting 25 million more cars on the road in the US this year.
  • Between March 2003 and October 2007 the US military in Iraq purchased more than 4 billion gallons of fuel from the Defense Energy Support Center, the agency responsible for procuring and supplying petroleum products to the Department of Defense. Burning these fuels has directly produced nearly 39 million metric tons of CO2 Just transporting 4 billion gallons of fuel to the military in Iraq consumed at least as much fuel as was delivered nearly doubling overall fuel-related emissions.
  • Emissions from the Iraq War to date are nearly two and a half times greater than what would be avoided between 2009 and 2016 were California to implement the auto emission regulations it has proposed (but that the Bush Administration struck down).
  • If the war were ranked as a country in terms of annual emissions, it would emit more CO2 each year than 139 of the world’s nations do, more than 60% of all countries on the planet

Of course, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan will lead to a huge surge in greenhouse gas emissions as well.

The fact that the U.S. military is one of the world’s largest sources of C02 is an open secret that no one is addressing. If C02 causes warming and the military is one of the largest producers of C02, then any talk of climate change which does not include the military is nothing but hot air.

This article was posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 4:36 am





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