November 03, 2021

Congresswoman Lee Introduces Resolution to Monitor and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the U.S. Military

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) today introduced a resolution aimed at monitoring and reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. military – the single largest institutional source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.  

The resolution calls for the Department of Defense to set clear annual emission reduction targets in line with global goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said that climate change is “a national security issue, and we must treat it as such.” And yet, the U.S. military is estimated to emit more CO2 than over 120 separate countries, and would rank forty-seventh out of 170 if measured as a separate country. Secretary Austin has committed the Defense Department to “immediately take appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations in our activities and risk assessments, to mitigate this driver of insecurity.” Currently, the military does not publicly and regularly report its overall fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions – despite requirements laid out in the FY2021 NDAA. The resolution introduced today also calls for the Department of Defense to commit to strict, transparent, and independently verified reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from both domestic and overseas operations, from military contractors, and from the manufacture and transport of military equipment and weapons.

“As President Biden said this week at COP26 in Glasgow, we are at an inflection point in world history,” Congresswoman Lee said. “The U.S. must lead the effort to limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. We must do our part to immediately and drastically draw down the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that includes monitoring and reducing the carbon footprint of the single largest institutional source of emissions on the planet – the U.S. military. We are already seeing the horrific consequences of the climate crisis – the wildfires that ravaged my home state of California this year are just one example. The time for transformative action is now.”

“On behalf of the Veterans For Peace Climate Crisis & Militarism Project, we thank Representative Barbara Lee for her leadership in introducing this resolution calling for accountability of the world’s largest institutional source of greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. Department of Defense.  This action is a continuation of her tireless efforts on behalf of veterans, peace, and mitigation of the climate crisis,” said James M. Rine of the Veterans For Peace Climate Crisis & Militarism Project.

Experts agree that global warming at or above 2 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrialized levels will cause severe harm to the climate systems that allow life to survive on this planet, with damages including but not limited to:

  • Hundreds of billions of dollars in losses per year in some sectors of the U.S. economy by the end of this century;
  • More than 350 million more people exposed globally to deadly heat stress by 2050;
  • Potential damages in the range of $1 trillion to public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the United States;
  • Crop failures and climate refugee crises around the world.

The resolution declares that is it the duty of the Department of Defense to monitor, track, and report greenhouse gas emissions from all its operations. This includes but is not limited to combat operations, deployments, drone attacks, weapons production and testing, and base construction and functions. It is also essential that the Department set clear annual greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for both domestic and foreign activities that are consistent with the 1.5 degree target specified by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Current cosponsors of the resolution include Representatives Nanette Barragan, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Earl Blumenauer, Sean Casten, Emanuel Cleaver, Anna Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Jared Huffman, Henry “Hank” Johnson, Ted Lieu, James McGovern, Gwen Moore, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Rashida Tlaib, Ro Khanna, and Peter Welch.

Endorsing organizations include the Alliance for Democracy, Brave New Films, CODEPINK, Friends of the Earth US, Food & Water Watch, Grannies for Peace, Greenpeace USA, Lobby for Climate/Change the Chamber, National Lawyers Guild, Military Law Task Force, Native Americans Veterans Association, Pax Christi USA, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Progressive Democrats of America, RootsAction, Veterans For Peace, and Win Without War.

The text of the resolution can be found here.