U.S. Military Consumes More Hydrocarbons Than Many Countries

file photo
file photo

Published Jun 19, 2019 6:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Research by social scientists from two U.K. universities shows the U.S. military consumes more liquid fuels and emits more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.

The new study, undertaken by researchers from Durham University and Lancaster University, indicates that if the U.S. military were a nation state, it would be the 47th largest emitter of GHG in the world, if only taking into account emissions from fuel usage.

The researchers' examination of the U.S. military focused on the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency—Energy (DLA-E). This agency is the primary purchase-point for hydrocarbon-based fuels for the U.S. Military and a powerful actor in the global oil market, with the fuels it delivers powering everything from routine base operations in the U.S. to forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

The researchers found that in 2017, the U.S. military purchased about 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kt- CO2e by burning that fuel. In 2017, the Air Force purchased $4.9 billion worth of fuel and the Navy $2.8 billion, followed by the Army at $947 million and Marines at $36 million. The Air Force is by far the largest emitter of GHG at more than 13,000 kt CO2e, almost double that of the US Navy's 7,800 kt CO2e. 

Report co-author Dr. Patrick Bigger, of Lancaster University Environment Centre, said the U.S. military's climate policy is fundamentally contradictory, confronting the effects of climate change while remaining the largest single institutional consumer of hydrocarbons in the world, a situation it is locked into for years to come because of its dependence on existing aircraft and warships for open-ended operations around the globe.