Uncovering the Hidden Environmental Impact of War and Militaries

**Uncovering the Hidden Environmental Impact of War and Militaries**

War and military activities have always been associated with the loss of life, destruction of infrastructure, and displacement of communities. However, the environmental impact of war and militaries often goes unnoticed and is not extensively discussed. Understanding the environmental repercussions of conflicts is crucial in the current era of climate crisis. This article delves into the hidden environmental impact of war and militaries, shedding light on the emissions and environmental costs associated with military activities.

**The Climate Crisis and War: A Distant Connection**

The link between the climate crisis and security has been a topic of international analysis and debate. While the focus has been on how climate destabilization can undermine the security of nations, the impact of national security decisions, such as military expenditure and war, on the climate has been overlooked. The environmental consequences of war and military actions need to be understood and addressed, as they have the potential to affect collective security.

**Emissions from Conflict: A Severe Environmental Cost**

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia prompted an inquiry into how it was impacting the climate crisis. This led to the realization that emissions data related to military activities was not readily available, despite the evident environmental consequences of wars. Researchers have attempted to quantify the emissions from conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict, with estimates equating to the annual emissions of entire countries. The carbon cost of conflicts, including the emissions resulting from military activities, must be comprehensively understood, similar to the humanitarian and economic costs.

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**Military Emissions: The Hidden Contributor to Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions**

Militaries have largely been excluded from environmental reporting and accountability, leading to a lack of understanding of their carbon footprint. It is estimated that militaries contribute to 5.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, positioning them as a significant emitter. With high dependency on fossil fuels, effective decarbonization of military activities requires a comprehensive understanding of their emissions. However, the current international policy frameworks and levels of military spending hinder the progress towards military decarbonization.

**The Challenge of Accountability and Transparency**

The lack of transparency and accountability in reporting military emissions is a major obstacle. While some militaries have set emission reduction goals, they often lack scope, detail, and accountability. The culture of environmental exceptionalism within militaries has perpetuated the lack of transparency in reporting emissions. Even international agreements and organizations have not been effective in holding militaries accountable for their environmental impact.

**Closing the Military and Conflict Emissions Gap**

To address the hidden environmental impact of war and militaries, a multi-faceted approach is essential. Governments need to acknowledge the significant role of militaries in global emissions and prioritize greater transparency and accountability. The climate movement should integrate the advocacy for addressing military and conflict emissions into its agenda, building on the growing trend towards intersectionality. Moreover, expanding the community of researchers documenting military and conflict emissions and utilizing their data for global emissions tracking and reporting is crucial.


The environmental impact of war and militaries has remained largely unexplored, despite its profound implications for the climate crisis and collective security. To address this issue, there is an urgent need for increased transparency, accountability, and comprehensive understanding of military emissions. The intersection of the climate crisis, peace, and security should be a focal point for policymakers, researchers, and advocacy groups to ensure that the environmental costs of conflicts are not disregarded. The hidden environmental impact of war and militaries must be uncovered and acknowledged to safeguard our planet and collective security.

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This article attempts to shed light on the hidden environmental impact of war and militaries, emphasizing the need for comprehensive understanding, accountability, and action in addressing the emissions and environmental costs associated with military activities.


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