The military’s contribution to climate change

A lack of transparency makes it hard to calculate the true scale of military emissions but it’s clear they are significant.

By Linsey Cottrell, Environmental Policy Officer and Eoghan Darbyshire, Researcher, Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS).16 June 2021

Militaries are huge energy users, making a significant contribution to climate change. Military emission reduction targets should be included in national climate strategies but we first need to better understand their emissions. In this blog, Linsey Cottrell and Eoghan Darbyshire explore why they emit so much, what needs to change, and why it’s not just a question of fuel. 

Figure 1. For 2019, the carbon footprint of the EU military was estimated to be around 24.8 million tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent).This compares with the carbon footprint of the UK military estimated at 11 million tCO2e for 2018. Figures reported by states to the UNFCCC for their militaries are much lower.

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