UK government carbon targets for military bases are very weak

In a new report, Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, argues that the government target for reducing overall carbon emissions at UK military bases is so weak it could be met without any action by the armed forces.

Responsible Science blog, 31 May 2023


In a new technical paper, I've examined the progress that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has made in meeting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from its UK military bases, also known as the 'estate'. These targets are defined by its Greening Government Commitments (GGCs) for 2025. I found that the MOD is on course to exceed these targets, but that is only because the targets are very weak and undemanding. Indeed, the target for reducing ‘overall’ GHGs from military bases has been set so lax that it would be met even if the MOD took no action to reduce emissions before 2025. This is because the reductions necessary to hit the target are happening anyway due to the decarbonisation of the UK’s national electricity grid - which supplies military bases. Other reductions in the MOD’s estate emissions - for example, due to heating - are, so far, towards the lower end of ambition as given in the government’s recent national energy strategy paper, Powering Up Britain, or are due to temporary changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings are particularly concerning as reductions in the GHGs due to other MOD's activities - such as  fuel use by warships, combat planes, and armoured vehicles, or the indirect emissions of military operations - are considerably harder to reduce.

Hence, the technical paper recommends much greater ambition for the MOD’s GGC targets for 2030. It does this for three reasons: to compensate for the lack of progress to date; the greater obstacles to reductions in other military emissions, e.g. from military equipment such as warships and combat planes; and the likelihood that the UK government will increase its GHG emissions reduction ambitions due to the growing climate threat.

Dr Stuart Parkinson is Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility. He holds a PhD in climate science, and has written extensively about the issue of military carbon emissions.

Also see...

Denials Over Scale of Climate Challenge Faced are Military-Grade Greenwash
Byline Times, 31 May 2023

SGR's web-pages on Climate change and the military

[image: US DOD]