Cartoon by Samuel Embleton, alias “Sarcasam” when drawing for the press. Sam is an Anglo-Swiss freelance illustrator and comic strip author. His work ranges from illustration for publishing to visual communication for companies and storyboarding for clients worldwide. He is well known within the Swiss armed forces for his work with the Department of Defence.
Environmental protection has long been a matter of course in the Swiss Armed Forces — sometimes also by unconventional methods (see the video below). This is not least because the exercises of the Swiss Armed Forces take place predominantly in Switzerland and that destruction of the landscape would, therefore, harm the image of the Swiss Armed Forces.
Nevertheless, the Swiss Armed Forces are also feeling the effects of the “Green Wave”, which is calling for environmental protection and measures to counter global warming. A parade of the Artillerie Abteilung 16 in Winterthur last Wednesday afternoon was interrupted by around 40 young activists, which is rather unusual for Switzerland. Whether they were actually climate activists or perhaps green members of the Group for a Switzerland without an Army is beyond our knowledge. In any case, they put a large (but ugly) banner with the message “Stop tanks, end wars, fight climate crisis” in the way of the tanks. After a few minutes, the manifestation was over again. The moderator of the parade took the disturbance lightly: “A few want to make use of their right of expression”.
The Swedish Armed Forces also take environmental protection seriously and write on the website:
The Swedish Parliament has adopted 16 national objectives relating to the environment – including areas such as air quality, acidification, and biodiversity – which are to be met by 2020. The government has tasked the Swedish Armed Forces to support these efforts. Consequently, our operations are characterised by respect for the environment, whether we are planning or conducting operations or exercises in Sweden or abroad.
Three objectives of the Swedish Armed Forces for ecologically sustainable development are:
- Reduced energy consumption
- Reduced proportion of non-recycled waste
- Environmental considerations for exercises and operations
Consequently, the Swedish Armed Forces publish every year a report that details their efforts in the environmental sphere and assesses the environmental impact of their operations. The next report for the year 2018 will probably be published in November — good things need time!
The situation is somewhat different with the US Armed Forces. Not least because of their size, the ecological footprint of the US Armed Forces is enormous. A study by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs showed that the US military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than most medium-sized countries. If the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal.