NATO Military Among World’s Largest Polluters

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NATO’s military spending last year totaled $1.34 trillion. Member militaries also produced approximately 233 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e). The research showed this was more than Qatar’s annual GHG emissions. Other studies of the environmental impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Middle East conflicts showed similar results. The study comes from the Transnational Institute, Tipping Point North South, and the Netherlands’ Stop Wapenhandel.

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The report states, “NATO is responsible for 55% of total global military spending.” The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database shows that most of the balance is from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and India. The same source shows that total military spending in 2023 was $2.44 trillion, up 6.8% from the previous year. Given current levels of global conflict, this figure will likely continue to rise.

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The future is grim.” NATO has said that climate change is ‘one of the defining challenges of our times’ and committed the alliance to mitigating climate change, yet continues to increase emissions rather than reduce them. This is because increased military spending is largely spent on military equipment which remains highly dependent on fossil fuels.”

The military problem is similar to issues with fossil fuels. The current needs of countries and industries push the fulfillment of their climate solution plans further into the future. As data for June show, it was the hottest June in history, and that trend will continue.

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