Carbon emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza exceeded the annual carbon footprint of more than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations and were equivalent to burning at least 150,000 tonnes of coal, new first-of-its-kind research reveals.
The vast majority — over 99% of the 281,000 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent — can be attributed to Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza.
The analysis takes into consideration CO2 from aircraft missions, including US cargo planes flying military supplies to Israel, tanks and fuel from other vehicles, and emissions generated by making and exploding bombs, artillery, and rockets.
The data shared exclusively with The Guardian provides the first, albeit conservative, estimate of the carbon cost of the current conflict in Gaza, which is causing unprecedented human suffering, infrastructure damage and environmental catastrophe.
Calls for accountability
There are growing calls for greater accountability of military greenhouse gas emissions, which play an outsized role in the climate crisis but are largely kept secret and unaccounted for in the annual UN negotiations on climate action.
Even without comprehensive data, one recent study found that militaries account for almost 5.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually – more than the aviation and shipping industries combined.
This makes the global military carbon footprint – even without factoring in conflict-related emission spikes – the fourth largest after only the US, China and India.
Previous studies suggest the actual carbon footprint could be five to eight times higher – if emissions from the entire war supply chain were included. Also, the study reveals that the carbon cost of rebuilding Gaza’s 100,000 damaged buildings will generate at least 30 million metric tonnes of warming gases.
Environmental authorities and authorities are currently asking: Who will hold Israel accountable for its massive climate pollution in its war on Gaza?