The impact of Militarism on Climate Change must no Longer be Tolerated or Ignored Print
Peace News
Saturday, 20 March 2010 11:52
published in the Victoria Times Colonist
By Joan Russow,  Ph.D., Global Compliance Research Project

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must address the contribution by militarism to greenhouse gas emissions, and that an important source of funding would be the reallocation of the military budget.

The impact of Militarism on Climate Change must no Longer be Tolerated or Ignored 
By Joan Russow,  Ph.D., Global Compliance Research Project

 Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" has successfully raised the profile of climate change. After almost 50 years of unheeded warnings, the human-generated causes of climate change are finally being taken seriously. 

At Gore's presentation in Victoria, in 2008, Gore issued a series of admonitions: "It is a planetary emergency and we have to act"...we are in a crisis - a crisis of danger and an opportunity", "we have heard the alarm bell and it is time to act", "we have to get over denial and moral cowardice", it is important for individuals to be part of the solution, but it requires the changing of laws and politics. 

These announcements are not new: what would be new, however, would be an announcement that he is going to produce another film, "An Even More Inconvenient Truth: Nuclear Power is Not the Answer", and another "The Most Inconvenient Truth: Exposition of the Full Impact of Militarism on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. 


Al Gore is right. Laws have to be in place to compel governments to end years of procrastination and finally implement their obligations and fulfill their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve carbon sinks.

In 1988, scientists, politicians and non-government organizations (NGOs) at the Changing Atmosphere Conference in Toronto acknowledged the following:

"the stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions."

They warned that:

"Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequence could be second only to a global nuclear war and that it is imperative     to act now."

Governments, coerced into inaction by industry, industry-front groups, industry-funded academics and industry-controlled states, have failed to address the urgency of the crisis through their reluctance to enact effective legislation.

If citizens are willing to do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, their governments, must stop subsidizing the fossil fuel and military industries; must redirect military expenses; and must discontinue the promotion of nuclear energy - the most hazardous and expensive form of energy known - as the solution to climate change.

Corporations and policy-makers are talking openly about nuclear energy as the solution to climate change. However, in 1991, a Canadian parliamentary committee, issued a report, "Out of Balance: the Risks of Irreversible Climate Change", which affirmed the principle that a solution that is worse than the problem it is intended to solve is not a solution. Nuclear energy, with its radioactive footprint and its inextricable link to the development of nuclear arms, including depleted uranium in weapon systems, is not a solution. Gore must not be ambivalent about nuclear energy.


At a 2007 UN conference on climate change, several representatives of the NGO community involved in the militarism/nuclear matters and in the Peace Caucus drafted a declaration expressing concern about the failure of international bodies to address the impact of militarism on climate change.

This Declaration was presented at the end of the plenary to the Dr. Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: If leaders are to address the "challenge of climate change" they cannot ignore the impact of militarism on climate change. The statement called for the following:

"(i) The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to end the promotion of nuclear energy as the solution to climate change;
(ii) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to investigate and estimate the full impact on greenhouse gas emissions by the military and demand that each state release information related to the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of all weapons systems, military exercises, from war games, weapons testing, military aviation, environmental warfare, troop transfer, military operations, waste generation, reconstruction after acts of violent interventions etc.;
(iii) NATO, whose collective activities have contributed to, not only the perpetuation of the scourge of war and the violation of international peremptory norms, but also the substantial release of greenhouse gas emissions to be disbanded;
(iv) Global military budgets to be reallocated to global social justice."


Prior to COP 15, I co-authored a statement that was circulated several times to the state negotiators. In the statement |, we addressed the following concerns:

THAT many international NGOs are beholden to the military, fossil fuel, nuclear, biofuel, large-scale ­ hydro etc. industries through having corporate members on their boards and through receiving corporate funding;
THAT many politicians in developed countries "receive political donations" from the military, fossil fuel, nuclear, biofuel, large-scale ­ hydro etc. industries, and when no longer in politics sit on the boards of these industries.

In 2010 we proposed again, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must address the contribution by militarism to greenhouse gas emissions, and that an important source of funding would be the reallocation of the military budget. At COP15, there was support from Bolivia and the ALBA group of countries for the need to address the issue of militarism. President Morales, at a press conference, called upon President Obama to spend funds on life not death. Also the Chair of the G77- representing 130 developing countries, also pointed out that President Obama has difficulty spending billions on addressing the issue of climate debt to developing countries, but not on bailing out his friends, and on supporting military invasions and occupations,.


For Copenhagen, President Morales had prepared a document, in which he called for the "renouncing of war". The Copenhagen Accord not only does not address the contribution of militarism to greenhouse gas emissions, but also has weak targets for emissions reductions; the Accord epitomized what the Chair of the African Caucus had previously stated; "developed countries are playing with numbers while "Africa is dying". After the COP15 Conference, President Morales announced that he would be organizing a follow-up Conference in Cochabamba; the Conference will be held from April 18 to April 22. For this Conference, we have prepared a Post COP 15| Time to Be Bold Declaration. |

The major greenhouse gas emitters must recognize the climate debt to developing states - the ones that are least responsible but most impacted by climate change. At COP 15, a delegate from Bangladesh stated that for the developed states the issue is a matter of life style but for us it is a matter of survival-­ the right to live. While the global military budget soars to around 1.7 trillion dollars annually, many of the developing states are dispensed with in "Antoinettian" fashion: Let them wear rubber boots and drink bottled water. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 13:12