$2 Trillion for War Versus $100 Billion to Save the Planet

The West seems more fixated on spending social wealth on the military rather than addressing the climate catastrophe.

By Murad Qureshi, Globetrotter, September 6, 2022

During late April and early May, South Asia experienced the terrible impacts of global warming. Temperatures reached almost 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in some cities in the region. These high temperatures came alongside dangerous flooding in Northeast India and in Bangladesh, as the rivers burst their banks, with flash floods taking place in places like Sunamganj in Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Saleemul Haq, the director of the International Center of Climate Change and Development, is from Bangladesh. He is a veteran of the UN climate change negotiations. When Haq read a tweet by Marianne Karlsen, the co-chair of the UN’s Adaptation Committee, which said that “[m]ore time is needed to reach an agreement,” while referring to the negotiations on loss and damage finance, he tweeted: “The one thing we have run out of is Time! Climate change impacts are already happening, and poor people are suffering losses and damages due to the emissions of the rich. Talk is no longer an acceptable substitute for action (money!)” Karlsen’s comment came in light of the treacle-slow process of agreement on the “loss and damage” agenda for the 27th Conference of Parties or COP27 meeting to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022.

In 2009, at COP15, developed countries of the world had agreed to a $100 billion annual adaptation assistance fund, which was supposed to be paid by 2020. This fund was intended to assist countries of the Global South to shift their reliance on carbon to renewal sources of energy and to adapt to the realities of the climate catastrophe. At the time of the Glasgow COP26 meeting in November 2021, however, developed countries were unable to meet this commitment. The $100 billion may seem like a modest fund, but is far less than the “Trillion Dollar Climate Finance Challenge,” that will be required to ensure comprehensive climate action.

The richer states—led by the West—have not only refused to seriously fund adaptation but they have also reneged on the original agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol (1997); the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify this important step toward mitigating the climate crisis. The United States has shifted the goalposts for reducing its methane emissions and has refused to account for the massive output of carbon emissions by the U.S. military.

Germany’s Money Goes to War Not Climate

Germany hosts the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In June, as a prelude to COP27, the UN held a conference in Bonn on climate change. The talks ended in acrimony over finance for what is known as “loss and damage.” The European Union consistently blocked all discussions on compensation. Eddy Pérez of the Climate Action Network, Canada, said, “Consumed by their narrow interests, rich nations and in particular countries in the European Union, came to the Bonn Climate Conference to block, delay and undermine efforts from people and communities on the frontlines addressing the losses and damage caused by fossil fuels.”

On the table is the hypocrisy of countries such as Germany, which claims to lead on these issues, but instead has been sourcing fossil fuels overseas and has been spending increasing funds on their military. At the same time, these countries have denied support to developing countries facing devastation from climate-induced superstorms and rising seas.

After the recent German elections, hopes were raised that the new coalition of the Social Democrats with the Green Party would lift up the green agenda. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has promised €100 billion for the military, “the biggest increase in the country’s military expenditure since the end of the Cold War.” He has also committed to “[spending] more than 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product on the military.” This means more money for the military and less money for climate mitigation and green transformation.

The Military and Climate Catastrophe

The money that is being swallowed into the Western military establishments does not only drift away from any climate spending but also promotes greater climate catastrophe. The U.S. military is the largest institutional polluter on the planet. The maintenance of its more than 800 military bases around the world, for instance, means that the U.S. military consumes 395,000 gallons of oil daily. In 2021, the world’s governments spent $2 trillion on weapons, with the leading countries being those who are the richest (as well as the most sanctimonious on the climate debate). Money is available for war but not to deal with the climate catastrophe.

The way weapons have poured into the Ukraine conflict gives many of us pause. The prolongation of that war has placed 49 million more people at risk of famine in 46 countries, according to the “Hunger Hotspots” report by the United Nations agencies, as a result of the extreme weather conditions and due to conflicts. Conflict and organized violence were the main sources of food insecurity in Africa and the Middle East, specifically in northern Nigeria, central Sahel, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the food crisis by driving up the price of agricultural commodities. Russia and Ukraine together account for around 30 percent of the global wheat trade. So, the longer the Ukraine war continues, the more “hunger hotspots” will grow, taking food insecurity beyond just Africa and the Middle East.

While one COP meeting has already taken place on the African continent, another will take place later this year. First, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, hosted the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in May and then Sharm el-Sheikh will host the UN Climate Change Conference. These are major forums for African states to put on the table the great damage done to parts of the continent due to the climate catastrophe.

When the representatives of the countries of the world gather at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022 for COP27, they will hear Western representatives talk about climate change, make pledges, and then do everything possible to continue to exacerbate the catastrophe. What we saw in Bonn is a prelude to what will be a fiasco in Sharm el-Sheikh.

2 Responses

  1. How an urgently needed transition could be transformed if introduced at U.N. level:

    It is a challenge to transition the giant industries including all the connected “jobs” from a destructive towards a constructive process/ progress.

    There is really a lot(!) to do to “repair”- looking at the human/ industrial made huge social and environmental damage in history and at present around the planet (including the oceans).

    Let’s shift (almost in the first place) the military budget (~ 2 trillion dollars per year) in a step by step international binding agreement within a 12 year time-frame to regenerating nature and social balance.

    The attached industries will follow consequently.

    Let our (military) guys and girls be good “forces”/ stewards for a healthy and as far as possible resilient planet, and a socially stable global society including all wonderful creatures sharing the world with us.

    By training the staff correspondingly and thoroughly.

    That would be really great & smart for national and global security!

    And lets make them finally undertake the long overdue clean up of all the highly dangerous, poisonous and tremendous mess, the military and their industries have been leaving or dumping about everywhere around the planet during and after past (world) wars.

    Including the deadly nuclear waste time bombs rotting somewhere.

    Dangerous work for decades.

    There is only one garden Eden we very likely are ever able to reach ^^

    The entire weapon industry (military- industrial complex) must become state owned and controlled for no monetary profit.

    Just maintained for the really necessary defence needs.

    Not more than that!

    And this can be probably done very well with just ~10% of the present budget/ cost in about every country.

    In the hands of a shareholders dictated industry they always will be looking for more profit every single day and year by year.

    And if there is no conflict/ crisis they will create one at its “best”. They even are in for multiple conflicts/ crisis if maximum profit is on the horizon.

    Again and again, always based on malicious propaganda, spread by “government” agencies, evil willing „think tanks“ and allied media.

    Accepting/ causing millions of civil deaths and natures destruction.

    There is a choice for what to use global yearly military spendings…
    … of now more than 2.000.000.000.000,. $ each year.

    We got to want it and insist on it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Our Campaigns

How To End War

Online Courses
Help Us Grow

Small Donors Keep Us Going

If you select to make a recurring contribution of at least $15 per month, you may select a thank-you gift. We thank our recurring donors on our website.

This is your chance to reimagine a world beyond war
Upcoming Events
WBW Shop
Translate To Any Language