Norway’s new US-produced Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets will contribute to considerably higher carbon emissions in 2030, jeopardising Norway's obligation to curb CO2 emissions to 60 percent of their 2005 level, the newspaper Dagsavisen reported.
Compared with the old F-16s, the F-35s are much heavier (31 tonnes fully loaded versus 13 tonnes), and have much more powerful engines, Dagsavisen stressed. Consequently, they burn 5,600 litres of jet fuel per hour, compared to only 3,500 litres for the old F-16s, which have been in use since 1980.
When the F-35 fleet is fully phased in 10 years from now, carbon emissions generated by the Norwegian air force will increase by a whopping 207 percent, the newspaper reported. By 2030, the air force alone will account for 56 percent of the armed forces' total emissions. This will make it even harder for Norway to meet its climate goals, even though the military is generally granted a free pass for its heavy climate footprint.
“It’s a big problem that the military all over the world secures exemptions from reporting the effects on the climate and their climate measures”, Gaute Eiterjord, the leader of the environmental organisaton Nature and Youth, told Dagsavisen. “We can’t have that, when all parts of society are supposed to get down to zero emissions by 2050”.
Lars Gjemble, communications adviser for the Norwegian armed forces, claimed there was “broad agreement” that addressing “climate and environmental challenges is among the biggest jobs we face”. An an example thereof, he stressed that the defence sector, which is poised for a major build-up, is phasing out the use of heating oil.
However, Per-Willy Amundsen, defence policy spokesman at the right-wing Progress Party, doesn't buy into these objections. According to him, Norway's defence capabilities should be prioritised first.
“Unless the climate fanatics want to shut down the Armed Forces, then they can come up with constructive suggestions on how to reduce emissions as much as possible, without compromising defence capabilities,” Amundsen told Dagsavisen, dismissing the counter-arguments as “symbol politics that has zero impact on climate change”.
According to him, switching to nuclear-powered weapons that are virtually emission-free could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “But these climate fanatics put neither Norway's security nor the safety of our citizens first”, he added.
“If we put the figures into perspective, Norway accounts for about 0.14 percent of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions. Defence accounts for 0.45 percent of Norway's total emissions. The expected increase in emissions from Norway's defence will then amount to about 0.00022 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, based on today's emission figures,” Amundsen said.
Norway's air force is set to become one of Europe's foremost users of the F-35 with a total of 52 aircraft. So far, Norway has received less than a dozen of them, with an average price tag of NOK 1.375 billion (roughly $160 million) apiece.