Politics

MOD Told To 'Take The Lead' On Cutting Carbon Emissions

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change said there cannot be any exceptions if the UK is to meet its net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been urged to "take the lead" on cutting carbon emissions.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change has published its latest carbon-cutting recommendations, and says there cannot be any exceptions if the UK wants to meet its net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

A series of recommendations have been made, including making all MOD buildings and vehicle fleets zero-carbon and assessing the potential for alternative fuels to be used in land vehicles, ships and aircraft.

The Committee’s Chief Executive, Chris Stark, said it is all doable: "The steps we are advocating are fairly straight forward, they’re about making more energy efficient buildings, also more water efficient and the type of buildings that are ready for the change in climate that’s coming," he said.

"That’s a set of issues that you’ll find in other parts of the economy too… so we’d like to see the MOD to take a lead on that."

The military announced last year that they would begin exploring the potential for using alternative fuels in vehicles.

Hydrogen or biofuels are just two options that have been suggested.

Chair of the Committee, former Environment Secretary, Lord Deben said when it comes to choosing suppliers and partners in future, there is an opportunity for the MOD to take the lead. 

Ministry of Defence MOD main building Whitehall
The Ministry of Defence Main Building in Whitehall (Picture: Crown Copyright).

"We’re going to look to them to set an example because on the procurement front it is the whole of government where procurement systems are not satisfactory, and they are still procuring from people who are not providing the sustainability for combatting climate change," he explained.

"Government is too important in the economy not to get its procurement right."

As well as cutting carbon emissions, net zero can also be targeted through carbon sequestration – removing it from the atmosphere and trapping it back into the land.

It can be done using technology or, alternatively, by planting trees and restoring peatland.

The Committee says the defence estate offers the perfect opportunity to help re-design the environmental landscape.

"When we look at the Ministry of Defence and the vast estate it has there’s lots and lots of opportunity to grow those trees," Chris Stark said.

"And to have a more central role in the kind of changes in land use that we need to see in the UK to get the net zero overall," he added.

Changes are already being made within the Ministry of Defence.

Former Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee has been tasked with examining the department’s climate change policy, examining everything from equipment to infrastructure. 

"Defence acknowledges that, as the largest emitter of Green House Gas emissions in central government, we have a clear responsibility to mitigate our emissions footprint, adapt our capabilities and ensure that we are resilient to the future impact of Climate Change," he told Forces News.

"It is for this reason that we have instigated a far reaching review into climate change and sustainability. 

"The review will look to create a world-leading sustainable military with enhanced effectiveness."

Cover image: PA.