The Department of Defense could “build a fortress” with all the reports it has released making statements about climate change without implementing anything, Army climate expert Sharon Burke said Thursday. The Army Climate Strategy Implementation Plan, released this week, aims to change that.
The implementation plan complements the utility’s climate strategy plan, released in February, which called for electric vehicles, microgrids and more. But it contained no cost estimates, either for individual programs or for the effort as a whole. (“Funding is going to be a moving target,” Paul Farnan, the Army’s principal deputy assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, said in February. “This is a strategy that sets steps … a lot in the next decade.” and even some beyond the next decade”).
Now the implementation plan seems to have all the amenities, like a budget. It proposes three lines of action: facilities, acquisition and logistics, and training. Nearly half of its pages are made up of a detailed list of goals with deadlines stretching into the future.
It even includes an appendix of detailed estimated expenses. For example, preparing facilities to use less energy and cope with extreme weather conditions will cost the Army a total of $5.2 billion through fiscal year 2027. The strategy’s line of procurement and logistics effort is estimated to cost $1.6 billion. The training reaches an economic budget of $1 million.
However, what the implementation plan lacks is the technology to carry it out, because that technology does not exist.
“A lot of the goals in the strategy extend into the 2030s, 2040s, some even into the 2050s. Because the long-term goals that we have to achieve…we don’t know yet how we’re going to achieve them. . The technology will continue to evolve,” Farnan said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event.
The climate implementation plan includes some familiar ideas, such as microgrids and electric vehicles. But exactly how the Army will electrify all of its vehicles, especially heavy ones, is unknown.
“The honest answer is: I don’t know,” Farnan said. “And that’s why the goal is until 2050. Because we still don’t know how we’re going to get there. The technology is not there to give us full electrification of tactical vehicles.”
“I still don’t know how we’re going to charge into the battlefield. Nobody knows that,” Farnan said.
But the implementation strategy released this week is meant to allow the space, time and funds to find those answers.
“It is laying the groundwork for these longer-term goals. And this is going to be an iterative process,” Farnan said.
The Air Force released its own Climate Action Plan this week.