Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
Washington, DC 20001

The United Kingdom has passed legislation that will allow the country to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of decreasing national greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is personally committed to attaining this goal. The United Kingdom is a country in Europe. has a large-scale national plan in place to make the necessary changes to energy usage in both the commercial and public sectors. Within the United Kingdom’s central government, the Ministry of Defence is the single highest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for half of the total.

The Ministry of Defense has released its “Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach,” a roadmap for military adaptation to climate change, in preparation for hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, often known as COP26, in November 2021.

Climate change, particularly the rising number of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and desertification, is already acting as a potential accelerator of insecurity and armed conflict, both inside and between nations in regions crucial to the United Kingdom, according to the strategy. security. This is already happening in Somalia and the Sahel, according to the IISS.

The Ministry of Defence believes that this will raise demand for international and local humanitarian aid as well as disaster relief missions, and also have negative consequences for the United Kingdom troops, ships, and aircraft deployed in the Gulf, along with bases and deployed forces at home and overseas.

The strategy claims that the United Kingdom must become significantly less reliant on fossil fuels. It lays forth a step-by-step plan for addressing and managing the problems that have arisen.

Cataloguing emissions and defining reduction objectives are among the steps being taken in the near term (the next five years), with an emphasis on the defense estate: barracks, ports, airfields, and training locations. The British plan to compensate for inevitable emissions by capturing carbon for themselves, rather than purchasing carbon offsets for their military.

For the years 2026-2035, the goal will be to drastically reduce emissions by utilizing existing and new technologies to reduce carbon output. In the long run, between 2036 and 2050, the ministry will turn to breakthrough technologies to reduce emissions even more. This acknowledges that many current green technologies are not yet mature enough to be used in military equipment such as fighter jets and heavy armored vehicles.

For example, because the Boxer armored vehicle is entering service with a diesel engine and conventional transmission, a large reduction in emissions before the vehicle’s midlife upgrade would be cost-prohibitive. This supports the idea of introducing new technologies as they develop and existing equipment is improved.

The British Army is installing solar panels on its bases, planting 2 million additional trees on its land, and testing hybrid electric drives on its Jackal wheeled scout vehicles. The Army chief has indicated openly that unless the Army’s values are seen to include climate security, it would struggle to recruit young British people, many of whom are concerned about the environment.

Some military personnel may be concerned that steps to make equipment “green” may diminish performance, particularly against opponents who prefer to keep older technology. Changing attitudes and culture across the military services could be difficult.

Others, on the other hand, believe that there isn’t always a trade-off between environmental credentials and operational success, claiming, for example, that “green” in military logistics means “lean.”

Many armed forces around the world face similar issues, particularly those whose governments aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Many defense ministries and armed forces could benefit from the United Kingdom’s military climate adaption policy and plans.



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