The U.S. military may be forced to drastically reduce its carbon footprint as a result of the Paris Agreement passed last week.
Even though American officials never signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the U.S. was able to avoid being obliged to report or curb the greenhouse gases emitted by the military.
At the time, U.S. officials and negotiators argued the U.S. would need two conditions met before signing the Kyoto agreement: one allowed the U.S. to use market-based mechanisms for tackling climate change, and the other one exempted the military from the deal.
This raised the hackles of environmentalists at the time, as the U.S. Army is thought by many to be the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels.
According to Department of Defense figures, the U.S. Army emitted more than 77 tons of CO2 equivalent in 2014. That figure could be higher, or lower, because it omits facilities including hundreds of military bases overseas, as well as equipment and vehicles.
“If we’re going to win on climate we have to make sure we are counting carbon completely, not exempting different things like military emissions because it is politically inconvenient to count them,” Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International’s director told The Guardian. “The atmosphere certainly counts the carbon from the military, therefore we must as well.”
Even though President Barack Obama is not considering the military cut its gas emissions, there is still concern in Republican circles that future presidents might force the Pentagon into abiding by the Paris Agreement’s reporting rules.
Thus media functionaries and think tanks are suggesting measures be taken to assure the exemptions wrought from the Kyoto Protocol stay in place after the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement cold be used as a Trojan horse to get the military to dial down its international footprint, Steven Groves, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told The Guardian in an interview.
“This might be a good opportunity for people concerned with national security to go to congress and get some type of legislative exemption in the same way as was done during the Kyoto time period,” Groves said.
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