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The Pentagon's Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Climate Change and War

By Cohort 4 BGFer, Tasneem

On the 29th January, thanks to the help of BGF, I attended a lecture event at LSE, as part of their "Shape the World Series", called "The Pentagon's Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Climate Change and War". It surrounded the topics of International Relations, Geography and History and really helped me develop an alternative insight into the Greenhouse Gas emissions in the 21st century.

Professor Neta Crawford, from Boston University, spoke about the history of extraordinarily high military fuel and hydrocarbon use from The Pentagon, the United States Department of Defence. The US is a global military power, accounting for a 1/3 of all global military spending. As a result, the military emits more CO2 than many nations including Peru, Morocco, Sweden and Finland. This is mainly from transport, such as jet fuel.

What was also interesting was the Pentagon's view towards climate change, which is significantly different to the current president, Donald Trump. They believe that it has the potential for increased conflict and military use, especially as a response to natural disasters. Currently, 70 US bases are suffering from climate-related impacts such as flooding and high tides, and with hurricanes to come they are vulnerable to damage.

The former Secretary of Defence, Jim Mattis, said "Climate change is a growing threat to national security" which Donald Trump does not regard. Also, another way in which climate change will be a threat to the US, is the fact that it can cause conflict over resources, demographic pressures, and Internally Displaced Persons. The US, being the only superpower with global military responsibilities, are concerned over what may occur in the future that can cause instability.

Overall, this lecture looked into how the foreign policy of the US affects the future, as their presence in many countries and war zones do have hidden "carbon costs". The main concern with The Pentagon is military fuel usage for transport, and alternatives such as biofuel may be looked into.


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