U.S. President Joe Biden is continuing his carbon crusade by pledging to make the U.S. military green compliant.
In a press briefing on Friday, Biden pledged to “spend billions of dollars” to make every vehicle in the U.S. military “climate friendly.” The president made his remarks at a Seattle event to commemorate Earth Day.
“In the United States military, every vehicle is going to be climate friendly. Every vehicle,” he said. “No, I mean it. We’re going to be spending billions of dollars to do it.”
“You know, as I said in my view, this [climate] crisis is, as I said, a genuine opportunity. An opportunity to do things we wanted to do, and only now have become so apparent,” said Biden on the so-called climate crisis following his remarks on greenifying the U.S. military.
According to a Quartz report in 2019, the U.S. military is a worse polluter than more than 100 countries combined. The U.S. military’s carbon footprint includes a massive infrastructure with supply chains from an extensive global network of suppliers to provide everything from bombs to hydrocarbon fuels.
The US military has long understood that it isn’t immune from the potential consequences of climate change—recognizing it as a “threat multiplier” that can exacerbate other risks. Many, though not all, military bases have been preparing for climate change impacts like sea level rise. Nor has the military ignored its own contribution to the problem. As we have previously shown, the military has invested in developing alternative energy sources like biofuels, but these comprise only a tiny fraction of spending on fuels.
The American military’s climate policy remains contradictory. There have been attempts to “green” aspects of its operations by increasing renewable electricity generation on bases, but it remains the single largest institutional consumer of hydrocarbons in the world. It has also locked itself into hydrocarbon-based weapons systems for years to come, by depending on existing aircraft and warships for open-ended operations.
It’s unclear how Biden plans to make the U.S. military vehicles, which presumably includes tanks and jet fighters “climate friendly,” given their use of ammunition and fuel. Even at its least absurd, the feasibility of implementing solar power generators and hydrogen fuel cells on lighter vehicles remains untenable with the current level of technology.
The president’s speech on environmental policies, which took place on Earth Day, included signing an executive order to protect some of the country’s largest and oldest trees.
The order requires the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to devise a shared definition of mature and old-growth forests. The two departments would then be given a year to tally data to be used on devising new policies to manage and conserve the wooded areas.