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U.S. Pentagon Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Portugal, Study Finds

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

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U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE - The Pentagon building is seen in Washington. VOA

The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said Wednesday.

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University.

The Pentagon’s emissions were “in any one year … greater than many smaller countries’ greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th-largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE – Air pollution hangs over the skyline as the sun rises over Beijing’s central business district, Jan. 14, 2013. VOA

“There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions,” Crawford said.

Request for comments to the Pentagon went unanswered.

Troop movements

Using and moving troops and weapons accounted for about 70% of its energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel, Crawford said.

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It dwarfed yearly emissions by Sweden, which the international research project Global Carbon Atlas ranks 65th worldwide for its of CO2 emissions.

Pentagon emissions were higher than those of Portugal, ranked 57th by the Global Carbon Atlas, said Crawford.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change, followed by the United States.

The Pentagon called climate change “a national security issue” in a January report to Congress and has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Pixabay

Global temperatures are on course for an increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, far overshooting a global target of limiting the increase to 2 C or less, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said in November.

Four degrees Celsius of warming would increase more than five times the influence of climate on conflict, according to a study published in Nature magazine on Wednesday.

Improvements

Crawford said the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, including by making its vehicles more efficient and moving to cleaner sources of energy at bases.

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It could reduce them further by cutting fuel-heavy missions to the Persian Gulf to protect access to oil, which were no longer a top priority as renewable energy gained ground, she said.

“Many missions could actually be rethought, and it would make the world safer,” she said. (VOA)

Next Story

Pennsylvania Taking Big Step to Fight Climate Change in Nation’s Fourth-Biggest Emitter of Greenhouse Gases

Joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative could face pushback from the Republican-controlled Legislature and the state's influential coal

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Pennsylvania, Climate, Greenhouse Gases
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signs an executive order for his administration to start working on regulations to bring Pennsylvania into a nine-state consortium that sets a price and limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, Oct. 3, 2019. VOA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is taking a big step in his effort to fight climate change in the nation’s fourth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The Democratic governor on Thursday ordered his administration to start working on regulations to bring Pennsylvania into a nine-state consortium that sets a price and limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative could face pushback from the Republican-controlled Legislature and the state’s influential coal and natural gas industries.

 

Pennsylvania, Climate, Greenhouse Gases
The Democratic governor on Thursday ordered his administration to start working on regulations to bring Pennsylvania into a nine-state consortium that sets a price and limits. Pixabay

 

Pennsylvania is the nation’s No. 3 electric power state, and its energy sector is its largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

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Its dozens of power plants fueled by coal, oil and natural gas could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the state annually under the program. (VOA)