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The Military Is the Largest Single User of Fossil Fuels. Elizabeth Warren Wants to Change That.

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When it comes to climate change, the Department of Defense has historically focused on preparation rather than prevention.

Last week, the Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released a climate proposal focused on the military, calling for the Department of Defense (DOD) to decrease emissions while increasing the military’s readiness for climate change. It’s the latest addition to a series of climate proposals from the 2020 presidential hopeful, who has also released plans to ban offshore drilling and up renewable energy generation.

“We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act.

The Pentagon has long-recognized climate change as a threat to national security, although the lens through which the DOD has historically viewed the issue has been one of preparation and resiliency, rather than prevention and reduction of emissions.

“The DOD has been paying attention to this issue for several administrations,” says John Conger, the director of the Center for Climate and Security, a non-partisan think tank that evaluates the threat of climate change. According to Conger, the DOD’s focus on climate change falls into three categories: how it currently affects the military’s ability to do its job; how it will change what its job is in the future; and how it affects geopolitical stability.

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