The Navy and Marine Corps are moving forward with a plan to emit net-zero greenhouse gas by 2050, with no compromise in capability. The course of action is absolutely necessary, the service’s top civilian leader believes.
“Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces of our time, exacerbating other national security concerns and posing serious readiness challenges,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in the introduction to Climate Action 2030, the May 24 white paper that outlines the course of action. “Our naval and amphibious forces are in the crosshairs of the climate crisis and this strategy provides the framework to empower us to meaningfully reduce the threat of climate change.”
Key goals include:
• Reducing emissions and energy demand, while increasing electricity usage on installations and bases and equipping the forces with training, plans and tools they will need to operate “in a more volatile climate future.”
• Drawing down the amount of carbon dioxide or equivalent pollution by five million metric tons – the equivalent to taking one million cars off the road – by 2027.
• Deployment of cybersecure microgrids or comparable technology that would foster carbon- and pollution-free power at bases and installations.
The document provided details of the devastation wreaked on Naval Station Pensacola, Florida, by Hurricane Sally in 2020, and Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee, by prolonged heavy rains a decade earlier.
“The climate crisis crosses sectors and geographies, and when we act together, we build more meaningful solutions and strengthen our collective security,” the document stated.
To date, the Department of the Navy has awarded more than $3 billion in contracts relating to transition away from fossil fuels. The enterprise extends further, to include equipping one third of the Marine Corps’ Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) seven-ton trucks with more fuel-efficient power plants. Additionally, some bases – such as Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland – quit mowing grass in many locations. Allowing the return to a natural state, the Navy said, is saving some $400,000 annually and reducing the risk of bird strike near airfields.
Other initiatives involving partnerships with local governments are producing favorable results at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Virginia, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. An advanced microgrid installation completed last year at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, has made the base one of the most energy-efficient in the nation.
The Navy also is exploring ways of changing propulsion on combatant and logistics ships, to incorporate hybridization.
“Improved propulsion and hybridization will provide significantly increased flexibility for our future capability upgrades, enabling them to be integrated in a more cost-effective and timely manner and provide warfare commanders with increased operational flexibility while decreasing demand on the Combat Logistics Fleet,” the document stated.
“There is no time to waste. Climate change is already impacting our department, our nation, and the world in significant ways, and the threat will only intensify in the coming decades,” the document stated. “The Department of the Navy has made meaningful progress, and now the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis demand that the department accelerate our efforts, work together, and think creatively to arrive at new and expanded solutions.”