Wartime emissions rage, but no one’s counting them

By Chelsea Harvey | 05/30/2024 06:32 AM EDT

Nations aren’t required to report their military climate pollution under the Paris Agreement. Experts say that should change.

Israeli troops fire howitzer rounds near the border with Gaza.

Israeli troops fire howitzer rounds near the border with Gaza. Estimates indicate that the first 60 days of the war in Gaza created 281,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

One sector of the global economy is conspicuously absent from countries’ efforts to halt climate change: the world’s militaries.

Nations participating in the Paris climate agreement are not required by the United Nations to report the carbon emissions from their armies and aircraft or warships and weapons. It’s up to individual governments to decide whether their armed forces must decarbonize.

But with war a seemingly perpetual feature of the modern age, some experts say it’s long overdue that military emissions be counted toward each country’s climate targets.


“A lot of what we advocate for is directly to change the reporting framework that the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] sets out,” said Ellie Kinney, a campaign coordinator with the United Kingdom-based nonprofit the Conflict and Environment Observatory.