U.S. Navy climate plan calls to cut emissions, electrify vehicle fleet


U.S. Navy sailors operate onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Adriatic Sea, off Split, Croatia February 14, 2022.

Milan Sabic | Reuters

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday unveiled a climate action plan focused on installing cybersecure microgrids, boosting its supply of lithium batteries, and slashing the service’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The Navy’s strategy, a response to President Joe Biden’s executive order calling on federal agencies to develop plans to adapt to climate change, directs the service to achieve a 65% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The plan comes after the U.S. Army in February unveiled its first climate strategy, which mostly focused on protecting and training soldiers amid worsening climate disasters such as floods and heat waves.

The Department of Defense warned last year that climate change poses a critical threat to U.S. military operations, and that more frequent and intense extreme weather events has already cost the department billions of dollars.

For instance, a Defense Department review last month discovered that the Marine Corps training grounds on Parris Island in South Carolina is particularly vulnerable to flooding, coastal erosion and other impacts of climate change. Scientists forecast that most of the island will be inundated by high tides by 2099.

“Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces of our time, exacerbating other national security concerns and posing serious readiness challenges,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said in a statement.

“If temperatures continue to rise, the oceans will get warmer, creating more destructive storms requiring our Fleets and Marine Corps forces to increase their operational tempo to respond,” Del Toro said.

As part of the strategy, the Navy has committed to curbing five million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2027 — the equivalent of removing one million cars off the road. It plans to install cybersecure microgrids or comparable resilience technology to support its missions, as well as ensure a domestic supply of lithium batteries needed for mission functions.

The service will also work to electrify its vehicle fleet. For instance, the Marine Corps has upgraded one-third of its fleet of seven ton trucks to a more fuel-efficient version and anticipates the rest to be upgraded by 2024, the plan said.

The service said it will equip its force with the proper training and equipment necessary to operate “in a more volatile climate future,” such as including climate threats in its wargames and training exercises.

“Climate change exposes vulnerabilities to our people, installations, platforms, operations, and allies and partners,” said Meredith Berger, the assistant Navy secretary for energy, installations and environment.

“To remain the world’s dominant maritime force, the Department of the Navy must adapt to climate change: we must build resilience and reduce the threat,” Berger said.

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