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Military sector produces 5.5% of global total greenhouse gases

December 7, 2023 at 11:24 am

People walk past a COP28 sign at the Expo City during the United Nations climate summit in Dubai on December 5, 2023 [KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images]

The world’s military is estimated to produce at least 5.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, double that of the worldwide civil aviation sector, yet no country is required to provide data on their military emissions, Transnational Institute (TNI) has said.

In a report, the research centre said four of the world’s five biggest polluters are also among the five biggest military spenders, with current military spending damaging the ability to tackle climate change.

A five per cent shift in global military spending would meet the 2009 climate finance target, the research found, naming four of the five biggest polluters as the US, Russia, China, and the EU27.

Military spending has grown by 25.9 per cent in the past decade, TNI said in a press release. “This reflects a shift in priorities towards militarisation and escalating international rivalries, harming our ability to prioritise and challenge climate change across borders.”

“The climate has tragically become the latest victim in the crossfire of war. We have a closing window of time to address the climate crisis, but the world’s political leaders are more focused on arming themselves to the teeth than prioritising climate action,” Senior Researcher on Climate and Militarism at TNI, Nick Buxton, said.

The report was released as world leaders meet in the UAE to discuss the climate at COP28 in the shadow of the wars in Gaza, Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan and Myanmar. Bombing and other methods of modern warfare directly harm wildlife and biodiversity. Pollution from war contaminates bodies of water, soil and air and warfare releases greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the destruction caused by war leads to increased pressure on the environment, with vast quantities of debris being sent to landfill and new resources having to be sourced to replace housing stocks and basic infrastructure.

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