Activists are urging for the redirection of military expenses towards climate aid in preparation for Cop28.
Advocates suggest that affluent countries allocate 5% of their military expenditures towards climate finance.
World leaders have convened at Cop28 in Dubai for a designated day focused on “relief, recovery, and peace” on Sunday. This is a significant moment as it is the first instance of climate-related conflict being included on the agenda of an international climate conference.
Attendees will converse about the importance of providing assistance to populations that are deemed “highly vulnerable, fragile, and conflict-affected.” This is due to increasing proof that climate-related disasters increase the likelihood of armed conflicts in certain regions. This discussion takes place amidst ongoing conflicts in Palestine, Ukraine, Sudan, and other parts of the world.
According to the Transnational Institute, a global research and advocacy organization, effectively safeguarding communities from climate change and conflict will necessitate a change in focus.
“According to Nick Buxton, a researcher at the Transnational Institute, money is being allocated towards militarization instead of addressing the issue of climate change, despite it being the most significant security threat we currently face.”
According to the organization, if 5% of worldwide military funding was redirected, it could generate $110.4 billion for climate financing. This amount would exceed the annual target of $100 billion that has consistently been missed.
Bill McKibben, an environmental activist and author, stated that the security of nations and the world in the 21st century will rely on controlling the increase in temperature and its destructive consequences more than any other factor.
According to a 2022 estimate, the military forces of the world are responsible for emitting at least 5.5% of greenhouse gases, which is greater than the entire carbon footprint of Japan. However, due to successful lobbying by the US during the 1997 Kyoto conference, countries are not obligated to report their military emissions. Although this exemption was removed in 2015, reporting military emissions remains optional.
In the last 10 years, there has been a 25% increase in military expenditures, reaching over $2.2 trillion in 2022. However, efforts to raise funds for climate-related expenses have struggled during this time.
In 2009, wealthy nations made a commitment to allocate $100 billion each year by 2020 for climate funding in developing countries. However, they failed to fulfill this promise and only provided $90 billion for climate finance in 2021.
Early figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, published this month, suggest that the target of $100 billion may have been reached in 2022. However, some specialists argue that this evaluation is based on exaggerated figures. A study conducted by Oxfam in 2022 found that estimates of climate finance in 2020 were inflated by as much as 225% due to dishonest and misleading accounting practices by affluent countries.
According to Buxton, even if wealthy nations fulfill their commitment, they should still redirect 5% of their military budgets. However, the widely acknowledged $100bn is significantly less than what developing nations require – a 2022 report estimated that $1tn per year is needed to address the climate crisis in these countries.
Countries with high levels of pollution will also have to provide financial support for the consequences and damages in underdeveloped nations. According to one calculation, the current need is already surpassing $400 billion per year and is expected to continue increasing.
According to researchers, the burden of reducing global military expenditures should fall on the countries with the biggest armies, which happen to be the wealthiest and most environmentally damaging nations. They specifically target Nato, an alliance of 31 countries including the UK, Canada, and the US, whose military spending is the highest in the world and also contributes significantly to pollution.
Last year, Nato countries were responsible for over half of the world’s military spending and it is projected to increase. This year, members have pledged to allocate at least 2% of their national budgets towards their military. If this promise is kept, the extra funds could cover all necessary climate adaptation in severely affected countries for seven years, according to researchers who used data from the United Nations.
According to the researchers, the heightened militarization has negative impacts on countries affected by climate change. In addition, they discovered that Nato nations are currently providing weapons to 39 out of the 40 most vulnerable countries to climate change, with 17 of them already experiencing armed conflicts.
Buxton expressed concern that instead of aiding communities, our actions are actually exacerbating the danger and instability.
According to Perry O’Brien, a climate justice organizer at Common Defense, reallocating some military funds towards climate finance would promote global safety.
He stated that safeguarding individuals and societies from danger is the essence of genuine national security.