Follow-up petition on climate and environmental impacts of the new fleet of F-35 fighter jets

Petition: 447B

Issue(s): Climate change; Compliance and enforcement; Human/environmental health; Toxic substances

Petitioner(s): A Canadian resident

Petitioner location(s): Waterloo, Ontario

Date received: 8 September 2022

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: This petition is a follow‑up to a petition submitted in 2020, as, at that time, the federal government had not picked a fighter jet and was not able to fully answer the questions asked. This petition raises concerns about the climate and environmental effects of the Lockheed Martin F‑35 fighter jet. The petition indicates that the federal government will purchase 88 new stealth fighter jets as part of a $19‑billion procurement program. The petition alleges that these fighter jets emit excessive carbon emissions and that the fighter‑jet program is one of the most carbon-intensive programs, will prevent Canada from decarbonizing and meeting the Paris Agreement commitments, and will contribute to environmental damage because of the need to mine minerals and metals to manufacture the jets. The petition asks whether National Defence has considered the adverse climate and environmental effects of the F‑35 fighter jets and asks what National Defence or the federal government is doing to reduce them. Additionally, the petition asks how the mining needed to manufacture the F‑35 jets could adversely affect the environment, where these minerals and metals will come from, and how National Defence plans to remediate the affected land and water.

The petition goes on to highlight that National Defence is not required to‑and does not‑fully and publicly disclose the climate and environmental effects of its military vehicles and operations. The petition states that the emissions from military activities and operations are not included in the federal greenhouse gas reduction target, even though National Defence accounts for 61% of all federal emissions. Furthermore, the petition states that National Defence has not released a plan detailing how it will offset emissions by 2050 to achieve net‑zero emissions. With this, the petition asks what the fuel consumption and carbon emissions are per flight, per hour, and per service life of the jet, what type and source of fuel the F‑35 jets use, and what other emissions are released from the F‑35s besides carbon dioxide. Moreover, it asks whether the federal government has a plan to offset these emissions and, if it does, asks it to provide details of its plan.

The petition indicates that F‑35 fighter jets require firefighting foam to prevent and control jet‑fuel fires, noting that the firefighting foam has per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are toxic and can contaminate groundwater and soil. The petition questions how the use of the firefighting foam will affect water and soil. Furthermore, given that the new fleet of F‑35s will be using air force bases and weapon ranges such as the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in Alberta and the Goose Bay Air Weapons Range in Newfoundland, the petition asks how the fighter jets will affect nearby forests, land, waterways, wildlife, and Indigenous communities’ traditional territories. Additionally, the petition asks how any aerial refuelers that will accompany the new F-35s could adversely affect the climate and environment, whether the federal government will purchase new aerial refuelers and, if so, how many and which ones. The petition goes on to question how the F‑35s’ flying, training, and infrastructure needs in the Arctic could affect the climate and environment. Additionally, the petition asks whether the federal government has considered how the noise of the F‑35s will affect human and animal hearing.

Federal departments/organizations responsible for reply: National Defence