Governments: commit to meaningful military emissions cuts at COP26
Join our call for action
There are signs that some countries may pledge to reduce military greenhouse gas emissions at COP26 in November. This call sets out the scope of what these pledges should include and is open for signature by organisations before and during the COP.
The 2015 Paris Agreement left cutting military greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the discretion of individual nations.
Militaries are major emitters and should not be excluded from GHG reduction targets. Governments must demonstrate their commitment to the Paris targets by setting military GHG reduction targets and cutting military GHG emissions at COP26. For these commitments to be meaningful, they must meet the criteria set out below.
Military emissions, expenditure and reporting
Militaries are huge energy users and contribute significant GHG emissions, as well as causing wider adverse environmental impacts from training, activities and operations. Militaries are typically the largest energy consumers among government agencies but historically there has been a reluctance to disclose data on their emissions.
Global military expenditure rose by 2.6% in 2020 to almost US $2 trillion, in spite of a fall in global GDP of 4.4% due to the COVID-19 pandemic.1 Such increases in military expenditure risk mirrored increases in emissions, as well as diverting funding from sustainable development, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, obliges signatories to publish annual GHG emissions, but military emissions reporting is voluntary and often not included. When reported, it is generally incomplete and excludes emissions from equipment and supply chains, and those related to the impact of conflict-operations. This can include emissions from infrastructure damage, conflict-linked environmental change and post-conflict reconstruction.
Militaries and the industries that support them can no longer be viewed as exceptional and must take urgent and significant action to reduce their GHG emissions and environmental bootprint. While NATO’s recent acknowledgement of this is welcome, recognition is only the first step.
Update: In June 2021 NATO agreed to ‘assess the feasibility of reaching net zero emissions by 2050,’ which would apply to its activities. Meanwhile NATO member states agreed ‘…to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from military activities and installations without impairing personnel safety, operational effectiveness and our deterrence and defence posture.’ This is a positive step forward but still far short of what the planet needs to see. Concrete commitments and clear steps towards military emissions reductions must be on the table at COP26 in November.
Governments must use COP26 to commit to reducing military GHG emissions. For these commitments to be credible and meaningful, they must:
- Set clear GHG emission reduction targets for the military that are consistent with the 1.5oC target specified by the 2015 Paris Agreement;
- Commit to GHG emission reporting mechanisms that are robust, comparable and transparent, are based on the GHG protocol, and which are independently verified;
- Set clear targets for the military to conserve energy, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally responsible renewable energy;
- Contain clear reduction targets for the military technology industry;
- Prioritise GHG reduction initiatives at source and not rely on schemes to offset GHG emissions;
- Publish GHG reduction policies, strategies and action plans, with annual follow-up reporting on performance;
- Address how reducing military expenditure and deployments, and altering military postures can reduce emissions;
- Commit to incorporating climate and environmental assessments in decision-making for all procurement, activities and missions;
- Highlight the relationship between climate change and environmental degradation, and demonstrate a commitment to reducing the overall environmental impact of all military activities and missions;
- Commit to optimising the management of military lands to improve carbon sequestration and biodiversity;
- Commit to increase climate and environmental training for decision makers, including on how militaries can mitigate climate change and environmental degradation;
- Demonstrate leadership, openness and a willingness to collaborate and exchange information on good practice with non-military stakeholders;
- Commit to allocating the appropriate resources to ensure all climate and environmental protection policies can be fully implemented.
Support this call
If your organisation would like to support this call, please complete the form below. Submissions will be accepted up to and during COP26.
- Amnesty International
- International Coalition To Ban Uranium Weapons
- Soka Gakkai International
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
- European Environmental Bureau (EU)
- European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions (EUROMIL) (EU)
- Quaker Council for European Affairs (EU)
- 2degrees Northampton (US)
- Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy (UK)
- Baptist Peace Fellowship (UK)
- Belgian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BE)
- Brynviron (UK)
- Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
- Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas (CO)
- Climate Action Now MA (US)
- Conflict and Environment Observatory (UK)
- Cumbria and Lancashire Area Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
- East Lancashire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
- Fellowship of Reconciliation (UK)
- FOGGS – Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (BE)
- Global Campaign on Military Spending (UK)
- Greater Manchester & District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
- Human Environmental Association for Development (LB)
- Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LB)
- Methodist Peace Fellowship (UK)
- Movement for the Abolition of War (UK)
- NWRG-onlus (IT)
- PAX (NL)
- Polish Zero Waste Association (PL)
- Scientists for Global Responsibility (UK)
- Shadow World Investigations (UK)
- South Lakeland and Lancaster District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
- Stop Fuelling War, Cessez d’alimenter la guerre (FR)
- Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SE)
- The Earth Bill Network (US)
- Tipping Point North South (UK)
- Veterans For Peace | Climate Crisis & Militarism Project (US)
- Women for Weapons Trade Transparency (US)
- XR Peace (UK)
- XR Pendle (UK)
- Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
- Zoï Environment Network (CH)
- According to data published in April 2021 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.