National Defence says “planned capture of emissions” will lower environmental impact of F-35 fighter-bombers

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: An F-35A flies past the CN Tower, September 2021.

On January 9, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced at a virtual media conference that Canada is buying 88 F-35A fighter-bombers.

Global News reports that Jessica Lamirande, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence, says that an assessment has been conducted on the “environmental impact” of F-35 fighter jets that includes the “planned capture of emissions”.

The article by Montreal-based reporter Gloria Henriquez notes: “The government says they have conducted an assessment of the jets’ environmental impact, concluding that it would be the same as those of the existing CF-18 aircraft.”

It then quotes Lamirande who says: “In fact, they may be lower as a result of reduced use of hazardous materials, and planned capture of emissions. The analysis supports the conclusion that replacing the current fighter fleet with the future fighter fleet will not have an adverse impact on the environment.”

CCPA report

On August 5, 2021, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report titled Leading the way? A critical assessment of the federal Greening Government Strategy.

DND = 59% of federal government emissions

The CCPA report specifies: “The Department of National Defence alone accounted for 59% of federal emissions in 2019–20.”

Fighter jets exempt from 2025 emission reduction plan

The CCPA report highlights: “The most obvious and serious challenge is the outsized contribution of national security operations to federal government emissions. The [Department of National Defence is] exempt from key commitments in the Greening Government Strategy [of reducing emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2025]. Specifically, while [DND is] beholden to the 2025 target for facilities and administrative fleets, their operational fleets [i.e., the air force] are only subject to the 2050 target [of net zero emissions].”

DND decarbonization plan due in 2023

The report also notes that the Department of National Defence is required to develop a decarbonization plan by 2023 for its operations.

DND responds to CCPA report

In response to the report, Lamirande told the Ottawa Citizen that National Defence is working on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

In August 2021, the Ottawa Citizen reported: “She noted that initiatives included transitioning 20 per cent of non-military vehicle fleets to hybrid and electric, the requirement for new construction and major recapitalization projects to meet industry-recognized environmental design standards and installing electric charging stations at new or retrofitted buildings for personnel to use with defence fleets as well as their own vehicles. Another strategy will improve energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of defence activities, Lamirande added.”

Lamirande said: “These activities have put us on track to reduce our GHG emissions by 40 per cent by 2025, five years ahead of schedule.”

Energy-efficient, net-zero carbon facilities for the fighter jets

The recent Global News report did also note: “As for the environmental aspect, Lamirande added the department is taking steps to reduce the potential impacts of the project, such as designing their new facilities as energy-efficient and net-zero carbon.”

According to Defence Construction Canada: “The total value of the contract [to build these new facilities] is approximately $525 million—$272 million for a 34,500 square metre facility in Cold Lake and $253 million for a 22,000 square metre facility in Bagotville.”

This would be in addition to the $21.3 million spent on the design of the hangars – $9.2 million for 4 Wing Cold Lake and $12.1 million for 3 Wing Bagotville.

The Canadian government has noted: “These facilities will be designed and constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standards and will use energy efficient options wherever possible.”

DND analysis on environmental impact of F-35s

We have contacted the Department of National Defence to ask for this report first mentioned by Lamirande in the January 6, 2023 Global News report. 

Given each F-35 is supposed to have a service lifetime of 8,000 hours and burns 5,600 litres of jet fuel an hour, we look forward to the release of the Department of National Defence environmental impact assessment of the F-35 and an update on its decarbonization plan that is reportedly due this year.

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