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US Army releases first climate strategy with goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

By Ellie Kaufman, CNN

The US Army released its first climate strategy on Tuesday with goals to reduce the Army’s greenhouse gas pollution by 50% by 2030 and attain “net-zero” emissions by 2050.

The Army plans to meet these goals by increasing fuel efficiency, making more Army vehicles electric, modernizing “operational power generation, battery storage, land management, procurement,” and “supply chain resilience,” the report said.

The strategy comes as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made climate change and studying its effects within the US military a priority since taking the helm of the Defense Department. Shortly after being sworn in as Defense Secretary in January 2021, Austin announced the department would “immediately” take “appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations in” military activities and risk assessments.

“Climate change threatens America’s security and is altering the geostrategic landscape as we know it,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in the opening statement of the Army’s strategy document. “For today’s Soldiers operating in extreme temperature environments, fighting wildfires, and supporting hurricane recovery, climate change isn’t a distant future, it is a reality.”

The US military has been impacted by extreme weather in the past few years at air force bases, naval stations and army bases in the continental US. Hurricane Florence in 2018 caused about $3.5 billion in damages and repairs at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and flooding at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska caused about $500 million in damages in 2019, according to a Defense Department report.

“The time to address climate change is now. The effects of climate change have taken a toll on supply chains, damaged our infrastructure, and increased risks to Army Soldiers and their families due to natural disasters and extreme weather,” Wormuth said.

The US Army strategy offers a “roadmap of actions” that will make army bases more prepared “in the face of climate-related threats,” a news release on the report said.

Part of the strategy involves enhancing “resilience and sustainability” by “adapting” military infrastructure to be better prepared to face the potential risks caused by climate change and climate change related weather events.

This includes considering climate change and its risks in all aspects of the Army’s development of infrastructure and installations, from “resilient energy and water supply” to “carbon-pollution-free electricity, efficient structures,” and more, the report states.

Right now, the US Army has 950 renewable energy projects supplying 480 megawatts of power, and there are 25 microgrid energy projects planned through 2024. The Army plans to install a microgrid on every Army installation by 2035, the report states.

The Army is moving towards carbon-pollution-free electricity production with the goal of using 100% pollution-free electricity on Army installations by 2030. They are moving towards purchasing electricity from carbon-pollution-free sources to meet this goal, the report states.

The strategy also includes ways to improve sustainability on army installations, reduce “sustainment demand” and prepare the Army with “skills, concepts and plans necessary to operate in a climate-altered world,” the release about the report said.

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