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“The Pentagon is the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases”


You bring together the economies of China, Japan, India, Indonesia, and the Middle East. It far exceeds Europe and North America. This has indeed happened over the past 30 to 40 years. It is a beginning, a seismic return to the pre-colonial era. In fact, India and China were among the biggest economic players in the world.

So, in terms of resources, in terms of population, in terms of economy, you can see that the Indian Ocean region is becoming, in a way, the main theater of world history again, which it was not in the past. 19th century, or even in the 20th century. In the 20th century, the Atlantic was where it all happened. But now I think we’re back to the pre-colonial norm.

You also mentioned the links between defense spending and climate change. Can you explain this?

Defense-related greenhouse gas emissions are expected to account for 20% of US greenhouse gas emissions. The Pentagon is the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases. For operations in Iraq alone, during the war the US Department of Defense emitted more than the entire nation of Bangladesh with 60 to 70 million people.

We do not pay attention to defense-related greenhouse gas emissions, as they have been excluded from climate change negotiations since the Kyoto Protocol. But defense accounts for a very large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. And these are only increasing, as each country, and especially the countries of the Indian Ocean region, are rapidly expanding their defense footprint. It will only increase and when you say it’s 20%, you have to understand that that doesn’t take into account defense-related manufacturing, which also accounts for a huge percentage of greenhouse gas emissions.

I would say that nobody really has their finger on the share of global defense-related greenhouse gas emissions. I think it is by far the biggest sector. If you compare, I think air travel only accounts for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. But the defense is 20%. There is a huge disparity there.