BP eng climate change

The climate crisis is an existential threat to all creatures and plant life on earth; it also has a considerable but little-publicised impact on the world of armaments and defence. Climate change is measured by harmful CO2 emissions which increase sharply with fossil fuel combustion and global deforestation. Rising emissions also exacerbate geopolitical disputes. In a 2014 report published by the Pentagon and the US military, new conflict scenarios linked to this crisis, coupled with increasingly scarce resources were envisaged. Unknown to most, the arms, defence, and military industries worldwide are - extremely polluting industries; as the biggest consumers of fossil fuels, they emit the most greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The situation in France

  • In France, it is difficult to know precisely how much the military-industrial complex emits. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published only one carbon footprint assessment (in 2012), although this is supposed to be published every 3 years; this report considered the entire armed forces’ GHG emissions to be "a little over 5,000,000 tonnes of CO2", a gross underestimation because: Not included: military operations, manufacture, possession and dismantling of military equipment, long-term consequences of military interventions or military bases abroad.
  • There is no transparency, with an absence of data on the carbon footprint of the army and armaments. The lack of information prevents any public debate, even though the army is financed by public money and is supposed to protect its population.
  • The carbon footprint of the entire weapons production/sales chains - contractual processes, of resources, their manufacture, delivery systems, not to mention their usage, entail environmental destruction; all these factors, plus the huge price to be paid for reconstruction, must all be taken into account.
  • The Rafales sold by France consume 2,200 litres of fuel per flight hour. This means that they produce around 20kg of CO2 per km.
  • Another French weapon: a Leclerc armoured tank consumes 4kg of CO2 per kilometre.

A global issue

  • In order to provide a complete carbon balance footprint assessment, it is necessary to establish determine the impact of conflicts on the world's environment.
  • Some chemical weapons remain in water or in the ground for decades; for example, the weapons and munitions dumped in the Adriatic at the end of the Second World War or the oil spill caused by the Israeli destruction of the Jieh thermoelectric power station, south of Beirut. War-related shipwrecks account for more than 15 million tonnes of oil spilled in oceans.
  • The destruction of infrastructure releases toxic materials into the air and the carbon footprint of reconstruction is considerable (1 tonne of cement = 656kg of CO2 released).
  • The United States, the world's leading power, is also the world's biggest polluter. A report by Brown University estimated the American army's CO2 emissions in 2017 to be 59 million tonnes, more than the annual amount emitted produced by Western countries such as Portugal or Sweden.
  • A form of passive legitimacy has been given to the world's military corps by exempting them from complying with legal norms at the national and international levels.
  • American military and arms lobbies have ensure that the worldwide military corps is exempted from reducing their GHGs emissions, according to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
  • Ratifying countries to reduce their GHG by a minimum average of 5% between 2008-2012 (compared to 1990).


  • The weight of public opinion, together with the political debate on climate change growing importance of mobilising public and political debate around the climate issue has nevertheless pushed the military to acknowledge the importance of climate threat as an issue so it has adjusted its rhetoric accordingly:The terms "climate threat" and "climate emergency" are being used more frequently in documents produced by the military world. This rhetoric is widely used to as a rallying cry around the "urgency" of the situation, enabling the sector to demand ask for more funding and resources.Far from being a real new-found social concern, the military sector sees this crisis more as a financial opportunity, leading to which translates into "military greenwashing". 
  • Indeed, military spending has increased worldwide in recent years, confirming that their proclaimed environmental concern is false.
    - During his speech, Minister Bruno Le Maire asserted that the objective of a "zero carbon" aircraft would be reached in 2035, 15 years earlier than expected, thanks to these a €15 billion aid fund. However, on June 10th, the head of the Dassault company (producer of Rafale fighter planes) indicated that a Rafale zero-carbon hydrogen - powered planes were out of the questionnot being considered because the current model “continue to sell well". Once again, the arms industry is prioritising profit over the future of humanity.
  • The sector intends to capitalise on the new global crisis by selling "green" weapons. Lockheed Martin sells solar-powered submarines, MBDA is offering its new missiles that generate less pollution, some munitions even come with reusable packaging: the climate crisis has become a selling argument to sell more.

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 You can download this document in PDF format by following this link: Briefing Paper: Arms trande and climate change