WILPF Canada Sees NATO as a Threat to People and the Planet
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Canada
(November 3, 2021) — Rapidly reducing carbon emissions is impossible with NATO’s rising militarism and military spending.
NATO is recklessly diverting our attention and resources to war and away from the grave threat of global warming.
NATO members spend over $1 trillion annually on their militaries, which is almost 60% of global military spending. At the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014, members made a commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on the military with 20% of that amount to be on equipment (primarily weapons systems).
Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, NATO members have increased their military spending by $200 billion annually. Yet, they have failed to meet their United Nations climate financing pledge of $100 billion per year for developing countries to adapt to worsening climate change.
In Canada, among all federal departments and agencies, it is the military that has the biggest carbon bootprint. DND including the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) consumes the most fossil fuel and is the largest emitter of GHGs. Carbon emissions from the military account for over 61% of all emissions by the federal government. Annual military emissions are at least 1,600,000 tonnes of CO2-eq or 1.6 Mt.
The Carbon Bootprint:
The Problem of Military Expenditures and Military Emissions
NATO is a fossil fuel-powered, nuclear-armed military alliance: Rapidly reducing carbon emissions is impossible with NATO’s rising militarism and military spending.
Canada is in a climate emergency. Across the country, people have suffered from record-breaking heat-waves, forest fires, droughts and flooding. Yet, according to the Climate Action Tracker, Canada’s carbon reduction plan is “highly insufficient.” Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are increasing. Canada is not on track to meet its Paris Agreement pledge and has failed to meet every climate target set by the United Nations over the past three decades. One of the biggest culprits for Canada’s failure to decarbonize is costly, carbonintensive militarism.
RISING MILITARY EMISSIONS
Canada spends much more on militarism than on climate action. DND has the largest budget among all federal departments and agencies. In 2020, according to the Public Accounts of Canada, the annual budget for DND was $27 billion. DND’s budget accounts for 30% of all federal departmental spending. By contrast, the budget for the Department of Environment and Climate Change was only $1.9 billion. Last year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ranked Canada 13th highest in the world for military spending.
MILITARY EXPENDITURES AND MILITARY EMISSIONS
In Canada, among all federal departments and agencies, it is the military that has the biggest carbon bootprint. The Department of National Defence (DND) including the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) consumes the most fossil fuel and is the largest emitter of GHGs. Carbon emissions from the military account for over 61% of all emissions by the federal government. Yet, military emission reductions are absent from Canada’s reports on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the federal climate plans.
The military’s energy mix is predominantly comprised of fossil fuel: aviation fuel, diesel fuel, natural gas, gasoline and heavy fuel oil. Over 70% of the energy use is for DND’s fleet (mostly military vehicles) and 30% is for its infrastructure (buildings and bases). DND spends over $500 million annually for petroleum products. Military vehicles like fighter jets, tanks and warships are notoriously energy inefficient, have long life cycles and have locked-in energy platforms that cannot be readily replaced by renewable energy. These vehicles are very harmful to the climate, the natural environment and people.
INCREASING MILITARY EXPENDITURES
Under the government’s current defence policy, Strong Secure Engaged, over $553 billion will be spent on the military over the next twenty years to maintain “high-end warfighting.” However, the federal government’s investment for the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change is only $132 billion over 11 years.
The government’s updated climate program, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, adds only $15 billion for public investment and $6 billion for clean infrastructure. Yet, this pales in comparison to the government’s planned purchase of new fighter jets for $19 billion and new warships for $77 billion.
Moreover, Canada has failed to adequately invest in the UN Green Climate Fund to help g developing countries adapt to the climate crisis. The federal government’s climate finance commitment of $5 billion over the next five years is equivalent to the price tag for Canada’s new armed drones.
EXEMPTION FOR THE NATIONAL SAFETY AND SECURITY FLEET
The majority of military emissions are exempt from the national reduction plan. Canada’s plan to reduce GHG emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net-zero by 2050 does not apply to the National Safety and Security (NSS) fleet, which is mostly military vehicles. DND’s 2017 Defence Energy and Environmental Strategy stated: “Given the unpredictable changes in operational tempo, the federal reduction target will not include emissions from military activities and operations.”
Moreover, DND has no public plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
How many trees will the federal government have to plant to offset emissions from its new fighter jets that will be used to bomb other countries?
CANADA’S MILITARY IS FOR COMBAT NOT PEACEKEEPING OR CLIMATE PROTECTION
DND is the largest employer in the federal government with 90,000 personnel, but it is a highly patriarchal institution of state-sanctioned violence. The military is comprised of 84% men and 16% women. The major services of the military are the army, navy, air force and Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) special forces.
Over the past twenty years, the Canadian military has been engaged in a brutal war in Afghanistan and in the destructive bombing of Libya, Syria and Iraq.
According to the latest UN statistics for peacekeeping, Canada is ranked very low at #68 in the world with only 58 soldiers wearing the blue helmet. The Canadian military is a force for combat not for peacekeeping and climate protection. To prevent and prepare for climate-induced natural disasters, Canada should invest in natural defence not national defence: renewable technologies, cooling stations, water conservation, forest firefighters, sustainable agriculture, public transit, health care and the Red Cross.
DECARBONIZATION IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT DEMILITARIZATION
Canada needs to demilitarize to decarbonize. The federal government must reduce and re-allocate military spending to the climate emergency. The government must not buy new expensive, environmentally-destructive weapons systems and instead invest in green jobs and a just transition. Peace and nonviolence are crucial to climate justice and gender-responsive climate action.
NATO Is a Climate Criminal: Factsheet
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an exclusive military alliance of 30 predominantly white, wealthy, Western countries founded in 1949. NATO is headquartered in Brussels, but it gets its ‘marching orders’ from Washington DC. The transatlantic alliance is dominated by the United States, which has the most troops and the highest military budget.
Since its inception, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander has always been an American general. NATO allies must be interoperable with the US military, which is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuel on the planet. NATO exercises and operations rely on a steady and excessive supply of fossil fuel.
NATO members also rely on nuclear power for their submarines and aircraft carriers and on a dangerous nuclear deterrence that poses an existential threat to humanity along with climate change.
NATO is a fossil fuel-powered, nuclear-armed military alliance of 30 predominantly white, wealthy Western countries. NATO’s carbon-intensive militarism and 2% GDP target are impeding progress on the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
NATO’S MILITARY SPENDING DRAWS RESOURCES FROM CLIMATE ACTION
NATO is recklessly diverting our attention and resources to war and away from the grave threat of global warming. NATO members spend over $1 trillion annually on their militaries, which is almost 60% of global military spending. At the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014, members made a commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on the military with 20% of that amount to be on equipment (primarily weapons systems).
Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, NATO members have increased their military spending by $200 billion annually. Yet, they have failed to meet their United Nations climate financing pledge of $100 billion per year for developing countries to adapt to worsening climate change
NATO’S CARBON-INTENSIVE WEAPONS AND OPERATIONS
Within NATO countries, it is the military that is the biggest consumer of oil and largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Fighter jets, tanks and warships, are petroleum powered and are extremely energy inefficient with long life cycles and locked-in energy platforms that cannot be readily replaced by renewable energy.
Over the past two decades, while NATO has fought its deadly and destructive war in Afghanistan, bombed Libya and expanded its aggressive operations in Eastern Europe against Russia, the planet has warmed to the hottest on record. Militarism is going to get worse under NATO’s new Agenda 2030. This highly irresponsible agenda is a blueprint for a carbon-intensive arms race and an expensive new Cold War with Russia and China over the next decade, which is also the crucial period to make progress on the Paris Agreement. NATO’s war exercises and wars are making global warming worse.
DISBAND NATO AND WORK WITH THE WORLD FOR DECARBONIZATION
In June 2021, NATO announced its Agenda on Climate Change and Security. It is a pathetic attempt to protect its military bases from extreme weather events and to make its weapons and war more environmentally-friendly. We cannot ‘green’ NATO, we have to abolish it.
Global solidarity is crucial to climate action and justice, but NATO is causing international tension and mistrust. Western countries must withdraw from the alliance and work peacefully and cooperatively through the United Nations system with Russia and China to solve our most pressing security challenges — averting catastrophic climate change, eliminating nuclear weapons and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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