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Pentagon emissions

U.S. warplanes and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are seen during a deployment in the Indian Ocean. (Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet/Flickr/cc)

100+ Peace, Green Groups Back Barbara Lee's Resolution to Cut Pentagon's Climate Impact

"Veterans see first-hand the cost of war and it is imperative that we work to minimize the Pentagon's carbon footprint."

Brett Wilkins

More than 100 peace and environmental groups are supporting a resolution issued Wednesday by U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee demanding that the U.S. military account for its carbon impact, and establish targets for reducing its emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement.

"The climate crisis is past the point where the U.S. can just take symbolic action, nor can we accept military greenwashing."

"We thank Rep. Barbara Lee for her leadership in introducing this resolution calling for accountability of the world's largest institutional source of greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. Department of Defense," James M. Rine of the Veterans For Peace (VFP) Climate Crisis & Militarism Project said in a statement of support for the California Democrat's resolution. "This action is a continuation of her tireless efforts on behalf of veterans, peace, and mitigation of the climate crisis."

The resolution states that the U.S. military has a duty to "monitor, track, and report greenhouse gas emissions from all its operations, including combat operations, deployments, drone attacks, weapons production and testing, and base construction and functions."

The document also says the U.S. Defense Department must "set clear annual greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for both domestic and foreign activities that are consistent with the 1.5-degree target specified by the 2015 Paris agreement."

The VFP-led statement is endorsed by national organizations including CodePink, Extinction Rebellion USA, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace USA, National Lawyers Guild Military Task Force, Pax Christi USA, Public Citizen, RootsAction, and Win Without War, as well as state and local chapters of groups such as 350.org, Peace Action, and Sunrise Movement.

"The climate crisis is past the point where the U.S. can just take symbolic action, nor can we accept military greenwashing," Veterans for Peace Executive Committee president Adrienne Kinne said in a statement. "Veterans see first-hand the cost of war and it is imperative that we work to minimize the Pentagon's carbon footprint."

While Lee's resolution—which is supported by 19 mostly progressive congressional Democrats—is a nonbinding "sense of the House" document—it is in support of the legal mandate in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to submit a "report on the total level of greenhouse gas emissions for each of the last 10 fiscal years" to congressional armed services committees and the U.S. Comptroller General's office.

Last month, the Pentagon published a climate risk analysis that begins, "To keep the nation secure, we must tackle the existential threat of climate change."

In a statement introducing the resolution, Lee said that "as President [Joe] Biden said this week at COP26 in Glasgow, we are at an inflection point in world history. The U.S. must lead the effort to limit warming to just 1.5°C to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change."

"We must do our part to immediately and drastically draw down the world's greenhouse gas emissions, and that includes monitoring and reducing the carbon footprint of the single largest institutional source of emissions on the planet—the U.S. military," she added. "We are already seeing the horrific consequences of the climate crisis—the wildfires that ravaged my home state of California this year are just one example. The time for transformative action is now."


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