New CAAT report on Military Expenditure and Climate Change

The UK government spends about £46.6 billion a year on the military, according to figures provided by the UK to NATO, or 2.1% of GDP.

* Government investment for a greener and fairer economy, Cafod, FoE, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, Islamic Relief, the WI, RSPB, and WWF, Sepember 2019.

After several years of relative austerity, this military budget is now firmly on the rise, with a 10% real-terms increase since 2015, and more increases promised.

How much, in comparison, does the UK spend on preventing climate change? There are no official figures, but a recent report by an NGO coalition* estimated annual spending on “climate change and nature” to be £17 billion, which they called to increase to £42 billion.

“The first duty of government is the security of the nation and its people” – such clichés are frequently trotted out in Government military and security policy documents; but the “security” in question is almost always seen in terms of state security, centring on the military and other “hard” security tools (such as border control).

This militaristic outlook is not simply about defending the UK from military attack – a remote prospect as even the government admits – but about using armed force to attempt to solve a wide range of problems, be it terrorism or regional tensions and conflicts.

This approach has led to a series of disastrous military interventions that have made the problems they sought to address far worse. It also reflects the idea that military power is the key to the UK’s status in the world, with ministers seeing a global military presence at the core of “Global Britain” post-Brexit.

But “security” does not have to be seen in these terms. A focus on sustainable, human security would reinterpret the “first duty” of government in terms of ensuring the security of people in the UK – and, inseparably, of people around the world – from the threats they actually face, which are overwhelmingly not susceptible to military “solutions”.

Most importantly, by far the biggest and most urgent threat to people’s security, including in the UK, is climate change, which is already causing catastrophic damage and loss of life worldwide. Yet, while the government has accepted a target of reducing the UK’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 (which many see as too slow), it has not backed this up with the policies and resources needed to achieve it. The government’s own Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warned this year that the UK is missing almost all its targets for carbon reduction.

The CCC estimates that achieving net zero by 2050 would require investment of between 1–2% of GDP per year. Yet this is seen as unrealistic by a government that sees 2% of GDP as the absolute minimum to be spent on the military, to meet NATO’s 2% target for its members – with ministers (backed by the arms industry and its supporters) calling for far higher spending. This represents a distorted set of priorities, fuelled by a distorted, militaristic view of security, which urgently needs to change. Right now, the first duty of every government should be tackling the climate crisis.

‘Fighting The Wrong Battles – How Obsession With Military Power Diverts Resources From The Climate Crisis’ is a new report by Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman. Read the full report

Not Welcome in Farnborough, Not Welcome Anywhere #StopDPRTE

Owen from Greater Rushmoor Against War speaks out about the arms fair happening right on their doorstep- and tells you how you can support the campaign and the Day of Action on March 28th.

Follow the Greater Rushmoor Against War group on Facebook and Twitter.

If you wanted evidence of just how effective sustained protest against the arms trade can be, look no further than the campaign run by Birmingham Stop the Arms Fair. With the promise of a day of creative action à la prior protests in Cardiff and Bristol, Birmingham NEC were pressured into stating that it was ‘more appropriate for DPRTE to be hosted at a more self-contained venue.’ The fact that this arms fair cannot be held in public space anymore is testimony to the general antipathy the general public holds for this amoral trade. It is for this reason that DPRTE 2019 now finds itself behind the chainlink fence of the ‘high security’ Farnborough Exposition and Conference Centre.

"Stop

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Open letter to David Cameron: Time for a wider discussion on national security

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing with respect to the National Security Strategy (NSS) review and the Defence and Security Review (DSR), both of which are scheduled to be published following the 2015 General Election. We do so in light of the report of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (DC), Towards the Next Defence and Security Review, (HC 197), published on 7 January, to which several of us submitted evidence, and the Government’s response, published on 26 March. We understand that the recommendations of this report will be the subject of a parliamentary debate in the coming months.

We urge you to ensure that the NSS and DSR processes help to shape the UK’s strategy in the world in a coherent manner. In summary, we believe:

  1. At this time of flux, there is a need to address some fundamental questions that have been neglected in the past, in particular the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and threats to security.

  2. There is a need to be honest about the UK’s capability to contribute to tackling security challenges, and the Government needs to be prepared to change its approach, not simply focusing on dealing with the symptoms of insecurity.

  3. This discussion needs to be frank, inclusive and (as far as possible) take place in the public realm.

  4. The DSR needs to sit clearly and transparently within the NSS, with its decisions justified by reference to the NSS.

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Making arms dealers tread over “dead” bodies at the Imperial War Museum

Arms dealers stepping over protesters at the Imperial War Museum
Arms dealers step over protesters in the entrance to the Imperial War Museum

Yesterday I got trodden on by an arms dealer. How did that happen?

A group of us found out that the Annual Defence Dinner was taking place at the Imperial War Museum. At £210-£300 a ticket and billed as “one of the most prominent events in the defence and security calendar”, this wasn’t an opportunity we could miss.

We met before the event dressed up to the nines (or as much as possible) for the arms trade’s black tie event of the year. Our mission was to try and stop the arms dealers from entering the building and if a few people got inside that would be a bonus.

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Interrupting Vince Cable – a morning at the arms sellers’ symposium

UKTI DSO at the Farnborough Airshow in 2010
UKTI DSO: flogging arms with your taxes

On 26 April, Sam Walton took the stage to disrupt Vince Cable’s speech at a government arms sales conference.

We didn’t think we’d get in. The UKTI DSO Symposium is the biggest event of the year for Britain’s exporters of “defence & security” gear – so you’d think they’d have better security.

We wandered into the hotel past the police and made our way towards the entrance to the Symposium. Not having the faintest idea where anything was, we were helpfully directed to the ground floor where registration and the first networking and mingling of the day was taking place. Amazing how far a nice suit can get you.

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There’s no CHARM in depleted uranium

Campaigners outside the MoDAneaka Kellay of the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) explains why the UK government should stop its support for depleted uranium munitions and take responsibility for the contamination caused by their past use.

On 8 November campaigners dumped 2.3 tonnes of imitation “depleted uranium” (DU) dust on the steps of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London. The reasons were twofold – to remind the MoD of their responsibility for contaminating areas of Iraq and Kuwait during the 1991 and 2003 conflicts and to cancel plans to extend the life of the UK’s last remaining DU round, the inaptly named CHARM3.

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