Nato chief suggests battle tanks with solar panels as militaries go green

Emissions from a 60-tonne US Abrams tank equivalent to 10 luxury cars

MUNSTER, GERMANY - MAY 20: A Leopard Tank of the Bundeswehr Panzerlehrbrigade 9 (9th Armoured Demonstration Brigade) during a presentation of capabilities by the unit on May 20, 2019 in Munster, Germany. The brigade is the core of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is a NATO rapid reaction force composed of soldiers from a variety of NATO nations. The German government recently announced it will increase defense spending by EUR 5 billion, the biggest rise since the end of the Cold War. (Photo by Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)
Powered by automated translation

Nato should examine how it can power tanks and jets with alternative energy, such as solar panels, to reduce its carbon emissions, the alliance’s secretary general said.

Reducing reliance on fossil fuels would also make troops less vulnerable to attack because they would not have to rely on long supply lines getting fuel to the front line, Jens Stoltenberg said.

The Nato chief suggested that militaries should advance research into low-emitting vehicles because of the advantages they bring, at an online seminar titled New Ideas for Nato 2030.

“Nato should do its part to look into how we can reduce emissions from military operations,” he told the Chatham House event. “We know that heavy battle tanks or fighter jets and naval ships consume a lot of fossil fuel and emit greenhouse gases and therefore we have to look into how we can reduce those emissions by alternative fuels, solar panels or other ways of running our missions.”

The carbon emissions from a 60-tonne US Abrams main battle tank are calculated to be the equivalent of 10 Mercedes-Benz cars.

Mr Stoltenberg said putting solar panels on tanks would be good for the environment and would also increase the resilience of troops on military operations.

“We know that one of the vulnerabilities in any military operation is the supply of fossil fuels along vulnerable supply lines … so if we can make us less dependent on that we are reducing emissions, but at the same time increasing military effectiveness.”

He said Nato was working on a number of projects to "look into how we can make our militaries greener and less dependent on fossil fuels".

He told the seminar that his background as a UN envoy on climate change helped with the proposals.

“Global warming puts pressure on people and resources and makes the world a more dangerous place," he said.

“Climate change affects our security and makes it harder for our military forces to keep us safe. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to do more to combat climate change, which is why we are looking to play our part in reaching net zero.”