On Earth Day, three armies announced their commitments to sustainability, the U.S Army, the French Army, and the Italian Army.
Meanwhile, the same day, on the 22nd of April 2021, the World Leaders Summit on Climate was held in the United States during which, the Heads of States of the three countries listed above announced their targets to decrease their CO2 emissions from now until the year 2030 to better protect the environmental resources:
- U.S.A: a cut of 50% to 52% of the CO2 emissions
- France and Italy: a cut of 55% to 60% of the CO2 emissions (European goal)
In terms of people in the Army, the defense sector is composed of active soldiers on duty (army, navy, and air force) and the reserve:
- USA: 2,2 million people (soldiers on duty + reserve + national guard).
- France: around 300 000 people (soldiers + civilians).
- Italy: a bit less than 200 000 people.
In terms of carbon emissions, the armies face several issues:
- The CO2 emissions of their installations (the bases in their countries and abroad), which means energy consumption (electricity), transports for commuting, effluents and waste.
- The CO2 of their core activities related to transport and the consumption of fossil energies: land, sea, and air.
If the first part of the perimeter is “quite easy” to master due to an environmental management, the second part is much more difficult, considering that the countries need to maintain readiness, operability, and a dissuasive force like in the most armed countries such as China, North Korea, Brazil, India, Russia, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Taïwan, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.
The question that faces the armies of all these countries in the framework of the Paris Agreement on Climate is: how to reduce the carbon emissions in the Defense sector that obviously needs a huge oil supply?
The IMEDD started a research in the defense sector on the supply chain of the armies, meaning the businesses that create the transport solutions for the armies. The goal of this research was to see if those suppliers were committed to reducing their carbon emissions through the process of production of their transport solutions and in their businesses. Most of the suppliers are concerned and seem to be aware of their carbon impacts.
Their guidelines are to work on quality, security, hygiene and environmental management and goals are set to reduce the carbon emissions of the manufacturing sites. In other words, the production process is on the way to reduce the carbon emissions, not only for environmental concerns but also for economic and social values.
However, once the defense transports are sold to the armies, we enter in the phase of use.
It includes the initial formation of the soldiers, the regular trainings to maintain readiness and the army operations in zones of conflicts to maintain peace or avoid the risks of escalation.
If the IMEDD asks the question of the army transports, it is because it is a huge field of action and a difficult issue for the carbon emissions, considering that even if in the future, the defense sector can create “clean army means of transports”, will they be adapted to situation of conflicts?
And what if some countries decide to go on the path of cleaning the core activities of transport in the army and if other countries do not?
A conflict is obviously the last solution when all negotiations and accords have failed, which implies that the future to decrease the carbon emissions of the armies in their core activities is based on the use of an increasing diplomacy and the need to create accords between the countries based on “win-win relationships”, focused on an economic, social and environmental international cooperation.
Information is also the key issue of the future for defense, and in this field of action, there are many innovation that can help avoid escalation.
To do so, it is therefore important to measure the reality of facts and create a sort of “international army and defense manufacturers think tank about the CO2 emissions of the core activities of transport”. In other words, transparency must be stated on the different kinds of transport used by the armies, the number of hours used for each means of transport and the consumption of energy.
Another issue is to support the technologies of innovation in the defense sector. This sector is competitive but not large at world scale, which means the possibility to encourage the manufacturers in the field of clean innovation. In France, there is an army solutions tradeshow based on innovation called Eurosatory. The transport solutions are exposed, and some helicopters or drones can be tested. Airbus also opens its doors to the women to explain its industry strategy in terms of sustainable development.
As shown below, the IMEDD was part of the Airbus event on sustainability in 2014 with the Women of the Economy.
Many people would think that having an interest for the defense manufacturers and the army is about supporting conflicts, but this is not true. In the field of sustainable development, there is a principle. There is no point of focusing all the interest on industries that are already easily committed to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. On the contrary, the issue is to focus all the efforts on the sectors that have an important impact in terms of CO2 emissions and help them find solutions to reinforce their corporate social responsibility and better master their environmental impacts.
In this context, the IMEDD is assigned to an international defense research that concerns the U.S.A, France, and Italy to assess the corporate social responsibility and sustainable development plans of the armies of these three countries, while also assessing the trends of innovation of the defense manufacturers to better understand how this industry drives a low carbon future.
For the three countries, the IMEDD will present both sides of the armies and defense sector commitments to a better environmental management: the infrastructures in the countries and the defense transports (core activity).
The armies and businesses involved in this field are invited to contact Virginie Lelarge, Founder and Research Director of the IMEDD at firstname.lastname@example.org to explain their corporate social responsibility and sustainable development plans in both fields listed above, so that their participation will feed the international research about innovation to reach the goals of 2030 in terms of carbon emissions.
Below are the commitments of the Armies of France, Italy and the United States for Earth Day 2021…
U.S Army… (U.S.A and Italy)