Broad-Based Coalition Urges Federal Contractor Climate Disclosure Requirements To Close the Military Emissions Reporting Gap

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Center for International Policy joined 22 foreign policy, climate and grassroots organizations calling on Biden administration officials to urgently finalize the proposed Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule to establish standardized greenhouse gas and climate-risk reporting regulations for federal contractors, including military contractors.

“Improving emissions reporting is widely supported – the Department of Defense itself is one of the three federal agencies who proposed the new requirements,” said CIP’s Climate and Militarism Program Director Hanna Homestead. “While more must be done to decarbonize and demilitarize US foreign policy, the proposed rule is an important first step towards accounting for and mitigating the military’s climate impact.”

Amid growing concerns about the unfolding climate crisis from the public, frontline communities, and cross-cutting experts, significant gaps in information about how US government contractors contribute to the problem prevent accountability and actionable solutions.

“A key way the US government can protect national security is to stop funding corporations driving the climate crisis without accountability,” added Homestead. We cannot address climate change – our greatest collective global threat — as long as defense contractors are allowed to pollute with impunity, contributing to the very instability we say we wish to solve.” 

The United States has contributed the largest share of global greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change today. While military contractors receive the bulk of federal procurement spending and emit more carbon pollution than the Pentagon, they are not currently required to comprehensively report on their carbon footprints.  

Download the letter here (with citations). Text of the letter is below.

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March 26, 2024

The Honorable Bill Nelson
Administrator
NASA
300 Hidden Figures Way SW
Washington, DC 20546

The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin III
Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

The Honorable Robin Carnahan
Administrator
General Services Administration
1800 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20405

Dear Secretary Austin, Administrator Carnahan, and Administrator Nelson,

We write on behalf of a diverse coalition of foreign policy, peace, and grassroots organizations to express our strong support for finalizing the proposed Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule in a timely manner. This rule will establish a solid foundation to inform and strengthen the federal government’s carbon emissions mitigation efforts in line with President Biden’s whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis. We applaud your efforts to improve federal contractor transparency, taxpayer oversight, and national and global security by prioritizing effective, publicly-supported action to address the climate crisis. In keeping with your proposal, we look forward to seeing this rule finalized expeditiously.

The adverse effects of climate change, which are already being felt, pose significant challenges to national and global security. According to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, “Today, no nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis. We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does.” To avoid the worst effects of a warming planet, the consensus within scientific and security communities is clear: we must take urgent action to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, the ultimate drivers of climate change.

The proposed Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule would advance this goal by requiring the largest federal contractors to disclose their Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions, their climate-related risk assessments, and their science-based emissions reduction targets. Improved disclosure and standardization of greenhouse gas emissions reporting is critical to mitigating the federal government’s carbon footprint, and military emissions in particular. The Pentagon is the world’s largest oil consumer, accounting for approximately 80 percent of federal energy use. The top defense contractors, together, are estimated to emit even more carbon pollution than the Pentagon but are not currently required to comprehensively disclose their emissions. Defense contractors are also the largest recipients of federal procurement spending – totaling more than $466 billion in 2023., While greater action must be taken to reduce the military’s overall ecological impact, closing the gap in military emissions reporting is a critical first step to adopting a meaningful climate change mitigation strategy for a more secure and resilient future.

In addition to the Pentagon’s own interests in tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions among defense contractors, the American public overwhelmingly supports greater climate action. Two-thirds of adults say large businesses and corporations are doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change and 56 percent believe federal government action on climate change is insufficient. Accordingly, public comments on the Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule were overwhelmingly positive. Diverse comments from the private and public sectors show that the proposed rule will help the federal government address informational gaps on climate-related financial risk and plan against threats to economic and national security posed by global warming. The comments highlight the rule’s long-run cost savings for taxpayers and the perils of ignoring the environmental transition risks of climate change in the federal procurement process. Attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia, as well as legal experts in academia and various non-governmental organizations, affirm the rule’s strong legal basis. In contrast, opposition to the rule is being driven primarily by corporations and trade associations representing carbon-intensive industries, including the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, who face reputational risks from enhanced climate disclosure requirements. We must not allow these firms to further jeopardize our collective health and security in order to maintain their own short-sighted profitability.

The fossil fuel and defense industries should not overrule public interest, scientific consensus, and security expertise by dictating government policy. Contractors who seek lucrative deals with government agencies must advance our climate, economic, and national security interests – not undermine them. This rule signifies progress towards achieving President Biden’s goal of reaching a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, in keeping with the Paris Agreement, and the Administration’s commitment to “meeting the moment” by taking urgent action to address the climate crisis both at home and abroad., We therefore urge you to finalize and publish the Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule in a timely manner.

Signed,

350.org
American Friends Service Committee
Center for International Policy
Climate Crisis & Militarism Project, Veterans For Peace
Climate Generation
Climate Hawks Vote
Common Defense
Elders Climate Action
Foreign Policy for America
Foreign Policy In Focus
Freedom Forward
Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.
MADRE
MPower Change
National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies
Presente.org
RootsAction.org
Sierra Club
The People’s Justice Council
Union of Concerned Scientists
Veterans For Peace
Win Without War
Women for Weapons Trade Transparency