ICYMI: Comparing the “New” U.S. Air Force Climate Plan with U.S. Army & U.S. Navy Strategies

By LSN Partners on October 13, 2022

On October 5th, the U.S. Air Force released its Department Climate Action Plan. This comes after the Army released its Army Climate Strategy in February 2022 and the Navy released its Climate Action 2030 in May 2020. Below are the key highlights from all three plans.

Just as each Service has its own mission and culture, its climate action plan differs significantly. However, all three branches share key priorities: ResilienceMitigation, and Adaptation.

Under the resiliency category, each plan includes modernization items intended to help each Branch withstand and recover from future disruptions due to climate change. For example, the Army plans to install a microgrid on every installation by 2035 and implement installation-wide building control systems by 2028. The Air Force plan is more specific: $36 million in fiscal year (FY) 2023, increasing to $100 million per year by FY2027 to improve base resilience.

When it comes to mitigation, reducing each Branch’s carbon footprint helps the country achieve its carbon neutrality goals, and it’s also imperative to fight tomorrow’s war against a peer competitor. Fuel efficiency is simultaneously an enabler and limiting factor in the operational capability of each Branch. For the Air Force, this is especially true as aviation fuel and energy to power aircraft comprise over 80% of the Department’s energy use. Its goal is to deliver more combat power to the warfighter using less fuel, referred to as “lethality per gallon.”

To do this, the Air Force will achieve 100% carbon-pollution-free electricity annually by 2030 and adopt 100% zero-emission non-tactical vehicles by 2035. The Air Force is also testing drag-reduction technologies on aircraft and developing a full-scale blended wing prototype due in 2027. 

The Army and Navy also recognize that fuel efficiency is crucial to their war-fighting mission. To tackle this challenge, the Army will field an all-electric light-duty non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2027, and by 2035 all of the Army’s non-tactical vehicle fleet will be electric. The Navy also plans to field an all-electric vehicle fleet and intends to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions from buildings by 2032.

Lastly, adaptation means preparing for the three Services’ security implications of a changing climate. Specifically, planning for increased social instability around the globe due to climate change-induced migration and preparing for higher-tempo humanitarian aid missions in the future as disasters become more frequent. 

To ensure all branches can deal with climate-driven security challenges, each plan includes the following: 

  • Climate-informed decision-making framework
  • Climate-informed training
  • Next steps for coordination with allies and partner nations on climate-driven security challenges

Ultimately, these plans will lead to a more resilient and sustainable military while providing many job-creating opportunities in the renewable energy sector. As we advance, we will see how DOD wraps all three plans into a department-wide implementation strategy to achieve these climate-related goals.