Jordan enlists military in climate fight


Jordan has unveiled plans to help fight climate change, including upgrading its armed forces by 2020, an area usually overlooked in the global warming debate. Amman says its armed forces will seek to upgrade engines and old vehicles and use energy saving technologies. It did not give expected savings.

Jordan is alone in mentioning a push to make military equipment more efficient among more than 30 developing countries giving details to the United Nations of their climate plans under a deal at December’s U.N. Copenhagen summit, Reuters reports.

Tate Nurkin, director of security and military intelligence at Jane’s, said while troop safety and military performance would always be higher priorities, “this will become more of an emphasis” both for governments and contractors.

The United States, the number two greenhouse gas emitter behind China, is pushing to reduce its environmental “bootprint” — the U.S. Defense Department is the nation’s biggest user of energy. Contractors such as Lockheed Martin or Boeing say they are working to slow climate change.

Less energy use by trucks, tanks, ships or jet fighters makes personnel safer by reducing the need for large fuel supply convoys, cuts costs and reduces dependence on oil imports. It also curbs carbon emissions.

Some experts say far tougher measures are needed to combat global warming and fear military build-ups could take place under the guise of fighting climate change. “You cannot expand the number of vehicles and tanks and jet fighters and then have a better fuel efficiency and say you are helping solve the problem of climate change,” said Johan Rockstrom, director of the Stockholm Resilience Center.

Submissions by other developing nations published this month focus on sectors such as transport, agriculture, industry or energy use without explicit mention of the armed forces. Alyson Bailes, a security expert and visiting professor at the University of Iceland, said the United States was doing most to reduce the environmental impact of the armed forces.
“I find it very strange that European procurement chiefs and producers are not thinking in the same way,” she said. “Part of the problem may be that ‘green’ people simply see arms as a bad thing and fear to legitimise them by cleaning them up.”

Among innovations, the U.S. military has found that spraying Honeywell foam insulation on tents in Iraq can cut the need for air conditioning by 45 percent. The military may have to adapt to new challenges since climate change, with impacts ranging from desertification to rising sea levels, may exacerbate conflicts.

Pic: Jordan’s King Abdallah II (left, with beard) with military officers at the recent opening of a new military academy.