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Eco-friendly weapons: Defence Secretary challenged over bizarre plan

Ministry of Defence (plaque on the front of the building)

Eco-friendly weapons: Defence Secretary challenged over bizarre plan

Ben Wallace has claimed that the armed forces will become more environmental by using "sustainable fuels" for combat jets.

Wallace, the UK Defence Secretary, said that the Royal Air Force is considering using algae, alcohol and household waste as fuel for combat aircraft such as F-35s.

But pacifists and climate campaigners said that the plan makes a mockery of serious attempts to tackle the climate emergency.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), the UK's leading pacifist campaign group, described the plan as a desperate attempt by the Ministry of Defence to appear ethical while totally missing the point. The PPU said that war is by its nature destructive and not climate-friendly.

The Defence Secretary said that “by refining our aviation fuel standards we are taking simple yet effective steps to reduce the environmental footprint of defence”.

No details or timescale were involved, only a statement that F-35s, Typhoons and Wildcat helicopters “could use up to 50 per cent sustainable sources in the future".

The policy is only the latest attempt to present armed force as eco-friendly. Last year, the head of the army Mark Carleton-Smith suggested that more young people would join the army if the army appeared to be environmental.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said:

“This policy is beyond naïve. It is pure fantasy. Neither combat aircraft nor any other weapons can be climate-friendly. War by its nature involves destroying human life, animal life and food sources, and devastating the environment. Any carbon emissions that might be saved by powering F-35s with household waste would be vastly outweighed by the destruction that they are designed to cause.”

Anya Nanning Ramamurthy of the Peace Pledge Union Youth Network, who has been very active in school climate strikes, said:

“War and armed conflict are already impacting communities largely affected by climate breakdown - furthering harm, distress and suffering. This is not what our future should look like. We desperately need to be rethinking what we call security and defence and move towards supporting one another and building resilience, not causing destruction.”

According to a report published last month by Transform Defence, an international NGO, the world spends almost 12 times as much on armed force as on tackling climate change. 


The Peace Pledge Union is a collection of people who have pledged to resist war and the causes of war. You can join us here!