• Just 20 countries account for 85% of global annual military spending ($1.9 trillion): USA, China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, UK, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Canada, Israel, Turkey, Spain, Iran, Netherlands and Poland. (SIPRI 2020)
  • Between 2003 and 2014, OPEC nations’ military spending rose from $64bn to $159bn (inflation adjusted to constant 2016 US$) – an increase of nearly 150%.
  • According to “very conservative” estimates published by Oil Change International in its 2008 The Climate of War report, the Iraq War was responsible for at least 141 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent from the start of war in March 2003 up to December 2007 – 28.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. If the Iraq war were ranked as a country in terms of GHG emissions, it would rank above 139 of the world’s countries. And if this annual emissions figure were multiplied by the number of years of the Iraq War, total GHG emissions for the war would be approximately 254 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent – more than the 2016 emissions by Spain (the 14th biggest economy in the world), and only a quarter less than France (the 6th biggest economy in the world).
  • At the height of the Iraq War in 2005, the Pentagon alone consumed daily the same amount of oil as the whole of Iraq – consumption that would rank the Pentagon 34th in the world ahead of Pakistan (with a very big population) and Sweden (with an advanced industrial economy).
  • According to the Pentagon’s own figures, the US military emitted 67 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year in 2016, which if it were a country would be ranked the 51st top carbon emitter in the world, just behind Greece and ahead of Israel. This figure omits USA facilities, including around 800 overseas military bases, equipment and vehicles.
  • The Costs of War Project (2019) estimated the total US military’s carbon emissions for 2017 to be 339 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, consisting of 59 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted by the Pentagon and 280 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted by the US defence industry. The Pentagon would be the world’s 55th largest CO2 emitter if it was a country, more than many industrialized nations including Sweden and Switzerland.
  • The US Air Force is the largest user of fuel energy in the US federal government, consuming more than 2 billion gallons of jet fuel per year, and accounts for around 10% of total US aviation fuel use. A modern military typically consumes more than half of its total fossil fuel consumption on aviation fuels (e.g. over two thirds in the UK and around 60% in the USA).
  • The Pentagon uses around 100 million barrels of fuel a year, which is roughly 14 million tonnes of oil equivalent. We estimate global military energy use to be 35 million tonnes of oil equivalent a year. If we were to rank the world’s militaries together as a country, it would rank as the 29th biggest oil consumer in the world (2016), ahead of Belgium and South Africa, and half the consumption of the UK and France.
  • According to the 2020 report by Scientists for Global Responsibility, the UK military sector contributed 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to the Earth’s atmosphere in 2017-2018. Of these, the report estimates that the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) total direct GHG emissions in 2017-2018 were 3.03 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, similar to the emissions of the UK’s vehicle manufacturing industry.
  • The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, with a projected service life up to 2070 and partially (10%) built by Britain’s BAE Systems, has a fuel capacity that at least doubles the F-16’s fuel capacity (3900 litres). Lockheed Martin expected to sell more than 3,000 F-35s worldwide.
  • The US coalition dropped 4,000 bombs in Afghanistan in 2017 and more than 7,000 bombs in 2018. The Saudi coalition carried out 19,000 airstrikes, dropping British and American made bombs between March 2015 and January 2019 in Yemen. The US-led coalition (including the UK, France, the Netherlands and Iraq) has launched more than 15,000 airstrikes in Syria – in the battle for Raqqa alone, at least 21000 munitions were dropped – while Russia conducted 9,000 airstrikes between October 2015 and March 2016. During Israel’s seven-week Operation Protective Edge in 2014, more than 6,000 airstrikes were carried out in Gaza, the 3rd most densely populated place on earth.
  • Cement production is one of the largest industrial sources of GHG emissions in the world – contributing an estimated 8% of total global CO2. In the World Bank’s 2017 Toll of War report on the consequences of war in the 10 worst-affected Syrian cities, it was estimated nearly 900,000 housing units were (partially) destroyed in 2017. The cement required to rebuild these units will release approximately 22 million tonnes of CO2.


  1. Trends In World Military Expenditure, 2019, SIPRI. https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/fs_2020_04_milex_0.pdf
  2. A Climate of War, Oil Change International, 2008. http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2008/03/A%20Climate%20of%20War%20FINAL%20(March%2017%202008).pdf
  3. Pentagon Fuel  Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War, Neta C Crawford, 2019 https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2019/Pentagon%20Fuel%20Use,%20Climate%20Change%20and%20the%20Costs%20of%20War%20Final.pdf
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/06/13/report-the-u-s-military-emits-more-co2-than-many-industrialized-nations-infographic/
  5. Dataset: Fuel use by type and industry, Office for National Statistics, 2018. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/datasets/ukenvironmentalaccountsfuelusebytypeandindustry
  6. https://www.acq.osd.mil/eie/Downloads/OE/FY16%20OE%20Annual%20Report.pdf
  7. https://www.sgr.org.uk/publications/environmental-impacts-uk-military-sector; https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-19-exclusive-uk-military-and-arms-companies-produce-more-carbon-emissions-than-60-individual-countries/
  8. http://www.afcent.af.mil/About/Airpower-Summaries/
  9. https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2018/Saudi-Arabia-air-raids-on-Yemen/index.html; http://yemendataproject.org/
  10. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/seven-years-bombardment-whos-bombing-whom-syria-1543076396; https://airwars.org/
  11. https://jamestown.org/program/putin-the-peacemaker-ends-operations-in-syria/#.V0-5oHroycw
  12. https://www.ochaopt.org/content/key-figures-2014-hostilities
  13. https://reader.chathamhouse.org/making-concrete-change-innovation-low-carbon-cement-and-concrete