The Air Force and Space Force, as well as the Army, released climate action plans on Wednesday, with the former seeking to operate bases with net-zero emissions by 2046, an ambitious goal that would beat the Biden administration’s own goals by four years.
The Air Force plan is the first to be released from military service after the Pentagon last year began its largest-ever effort to prepare for the effects of climate change. The document is intended to be a road map to help the branch better consider and prepare for the effects climate change will have on its operations, training, installations, planning and business processes when making decisions.
“Our mission remains unchanged, but we recognize that the world is facing ongoing and accelerating climate change, and we must be prepared to respond, fight and win in this ever-changing world,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a statement along with the plan’s plan . release.
In the plan, Kendall allowed that extreme weather and environmental conditions “already impose high costs” on Air Force installations and missions, “while posing new risks to our ability to train and operate effectively.”
He also acknowledged that of all the military services, the Air Force is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, the main cause of global warming and subsequent extreme weather conditions.
Later Wednesday, the Army separately released its own climate action plan, which includes increasing the number of microgrids at bases over the next five years.
Microgrids are local electrical systems that can reduce energy costs and, if necessary, can be disconnected from the larger power grid and operate independently during outages.
“As extreme weather becomes more common, the Army must adapt its installations, acquisition programs and training so the Army can operate in this changing environment and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement accompanying the plan. “This Climate Action Plan will improve our resilience and preparedness to these changes.”
The Pentagon has provided stark examples of how climate change is already affecting its forces and threats expected in the near future, including flooding in the Midwest, wildfires that have forced the evacuation of bases in the western United States, and hurricanes that have same on the east coast.
With the recent Hurricane Ian, for example, the Air Force and Navy were forced to move ships and aircraft out of the state prior to the storm’s landfall.
Such natural disasters have caused billions of dollars in damage to facilities that are home to key warfighting capabilities, according to Defense Department officials.
Climate issues can also affect troop safety. Extreme heat has killed at least 17 soldiers during training exercises on US military bases since 2008.