More transparency is required if the U.S. Military is serious about combating climate change.

By Jasmine Owens, Outrider

In 2021, the U.S. military finally made climate change a national security priority by establishing the Climate Working Group at the Department of Defense. In February, the Army released its first climate strategy report to reduce its carbon footprint. In principle, it is great (and long overdue) that the U.S. military reckons with its significant role in exacerbating the climate crisis, considering the U.S. military is the single largest institutional producer of greenhouse gasses globally. However, in practice, the military has a horrible track record with accountability, so its sudden interest in combating climate change must be met with healthy skepticism and transparent accountability measures.

GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - Nov 23, 2021: The three women holding climate change posters saying

A Sordid History

During negotiations for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a treaty aimed at reducing countries’ greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. was one of the key players behind pressuring the delegation to adopt exemptions for reporting greenhouse gas emissions from military operations. The treaty’s replacement, the 2015 Paris Agreement, eliminated the military exemptions but failed to make reporting on military emissions obligatory. As a result, the U.S. military has been able to waste and ruin as it pleases without a shred of accountability.

On top of the U.S. military’s spotty reporting record, the Department of Defense has been reckless with the funds Congress awards it, and continues to request astronomical amounts of money for the defense budget so they can line the pockets of their friends at the defense contracting companies. From spending more than a trillion dollars on a plane that keeps catching fire to $10,000 on toilet seat covers to being the only government department never to pass an audit, the U.S. military has proven that it cannot be trusted to use the taxpayers’ funds wisely. When the process begins to commission more energy-efficient resources, history has shown us that we need to ensure the military and their defense contracting cronies do not waste taxpayer money that could be better spent on more proximate security concerns for Americans, including the climate crisis, pandemic prevention, and public health infrastructure.

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