The Climate Impacts of Military Emissions
Effort led by UUJEC Board Members Cindy Piester and Dick Burkhart.
- United Nations (U.N.) Secretary General António Guterres has warned that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report is CODE RED FOR HUMANITY—“an atlas of human suffering”. Action is required NOW or NEVER. Youth, elders, the indigenous and people of color, the poor, and Global South, are disproportionately impacted.
- The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) uses fossil fuels intensely for its vast logistical facilities and supply lines around the world, in addition to modern weapons of war on land, sea, or in the air. In fact, it is the world’s largest institutional emitter of GreenHouse Gases (GHG). This leaps out, since U.S. military spending is nearly half of world military expenditures, and world military emissions are about 5% of the global total.
- Scientists warn that current U.S. efforts to reduce GHG are far short of what’s urgently needed to meet the 1.5℃ (2.7°F) limit on global temperature rise, already at 1.1℃ (2.0°F), to avoid or dampen key climate tipping points, which are advancing much more rapidly than predicted.
- Continued production of energy-intensive weapons systems locks us into decades of fossil-fuel reliance, despite efforts to minimize such reliance and advances in alternative energy sources.
- Yet, as a result of U.S. government pressure in 1997, military emissions were granted confidentiality and reporting mechanisms remain optional and obscure, resulting in vast underreporting.
- The supply of affordable oil, already fragile, is expected to continue into serious decline. Thus, the U.S. government must develop and implement alternative technologies and strategies to help anchor global security, in addition to reducing GHG.
- Both our 6th and 7th UU principles call us to action: “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” and “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
- This statement will focus on a glaring gap in U.S. emission-reduction strategies, while building on a long history of related UU statements: the 2006 Statement of Conscience (SoC) on “Global Warming and Climate Change”, the 2010 SoC on “Creating Peace”, the 2015 AIW “Act for a Livable Climate”, and the 2019 AIW on “Building the Movement for a Green New Deal”.
Therefore, be it resolved
that the 2023 UUA General Assembly, its member congregations, and Unitarian Universalist individuals and groups take immediate action to
- Organize moments, stories, or activities in worship and religious education to support Climate Justice, including advocacy to reduce militarism and its environmental impact.
- Bring attention to military bases and weapons production in our regions and attempt to assess their emissions and other impacts, joining coalitions to curtail or alter damaging practices.
- Support state, national, and global groups that are focused on the institutions and practices of peaceful conflict resolution, enabling the reduction of warfare and military forces, replacing them with social and physical structures that reduce GHG in equitable ways.
- Ask the U.S. Administration and Congress to require annual tabulation and full and transparent reporting of all GHG emissions related to U.S. military activities by DoD and associated agencies to the U.N.
- Reestablish a UU presence at the U.N. to include support for Climate Justice linked to reductions in militarism through the U.N. and its associated agencies.
- Network with the many UU groups who work on issues of militarism or climate justice, such as UUs for a Just Economic Community, UUs for Social Justice, UU Service Committee, UU Ministry for Earth, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, UU BIPOC Caucus on Climate Justice, and the UU Peace Ministry.
- IPCC: Updated IPCC Sixth Assessment Reports:
- “In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts, and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions. Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C.”
- NASA: World of Change: Global Temperatures (“a 1- to 2-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age”)
- NOAA: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/department/news-research-highlights
- BROWN UNIVERSITY: Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change and the Costs of War (PDF file)
- INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: “THE WARFARE STATE: HOW FUNDING FOR MILITARISM COMPROMISES OUR WELFARE” https://ips-dc.org/ips-post-type/reports/
- CONFLICT AND ENVIRONMENT OBSERVATORY: The military’s contribution to climate change: https://ceobs.org/the-militarys-contribution-to-climate-change/
- Environmental CSR reporting by the arms industry: Report: Environmental CSR reporting by the arms industry-CEOBS
- ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks | US EPA
- POPULAR SCIENCE: “The world’s largest military isn’t reporting its giant ‘carbon bootprint’ ” https://www.popsci.com/environment/military-greenhouse-gas-emissionsdata/?msclkid=e07522d8b51511ec8484a8a75f823https://www.popsci.com/environment/military-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data/?msclkid=e07522d8b51511ec8484a8a75f82315a15a
- MILITARYEMISSIONS.ORG: The Military Emissions Gap–Tracking the long war that militaries are waging on the climate
- NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT: Climate, Militarism, and Migration
- SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Climate Change News and Research
- SCIENTISTS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: “The carbon boot-print of the military”. https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/carbon-boot-print-military-0
- THE TRANSNATIONAL INSTITUTE: Climate Security Primer
- THE GLOBAL CARBON PROJECT: Carbon Budget
- WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE: Advancing the Systems Change Needed to Fight Climate Change
- SCIENCE: Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes.
- STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: https://www.sipri.org/
- MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE of TECHNOLOGY: Climate Justice | MIT Climate Portal