Acknowledge the links between militarism and climate change

Military activities across the globe generate a huge carbon footprint; the US military is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels globally. Historically, countries have not tended to report their emissions from the military sector which means that data and previous research into this specific area remains extremely lacking. It has been estimated that emissions from the military sector make up around 3% of total UK carbon emissions. A wide-ranging climate action plan would include the military sector and acknowledge how carbon-intensive its activities tend to be. 

It is not merely the carbon footprint of military activity that is the problem, however. Scotland's approach to climate change should be a holistic and intersectional one that strives to dismantle the oppressive power structures that have led to the climate crisis. In 2019, UK military spending was over 2.5 times that of climate expenditure. This indicates a deeper systemic issue whereby the UK continues to prioritize using armed force as a means of addressing global issues. We have already witnessed conflicts that have been exacerbated by climate change, like the drought in Syria that helped stoke political unrest in the region. War leads to the displacement of populations and direct environmental damage from carbon-intensive bombing campaigns. 

Redirecting military spending to invest in renewables would aid decarbonisation efforts as well as creating jobs. With the pandemic continuing to restrict budgets, military spending provides a significant economic resource and would be better invested in projects that promote sustainability, peace, justice and resilience. Devolution from NATO would also help Scotland forge a more sustainable and equitable future: this would remove the climate impact of carbon-intensive NATO training exercises around the world, as well as reduce Scotland's contribution to conflicts abroad that often centre around oil. 

Why the contribution is important

A report this year published by Scientists for Global Responsibility outlines in detail the environmental impacts of the UK military: from its estimated carbon emissions, to poorly handled nuclear waste at UK facilities, to the estimated climate impact of deploying the UK nuclear arsenal in a hypothetical conflict scenario. These are climate justice issues that affect both people in Scotland and communities around the world. A future Scotland should be doing everything that it can to prevent conflict. A shift away from militarism and towards prioritizing sustainability and investing in people would be a step towards creating more resilient communities, both in Scotland and beyond. 


by EdinPandJ on October 24, 2020 at 06:56PM

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  • Posted by IliyanaNedkova October 26, 2020 at 13:30

    Very important to acknowledge the links between militarism and climate change, especially that a simple search here indicates that, these links have hardly been explored so far.
  • Posted by DavidCS October 26, 2020 at 14:01

    No funds/grants from the Scottish government to any companies in Scotland involved in producing arms/military equipment or equipment for repression.
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