COP26 Open Letter Media Release

MEDIA RELEASE      21/10/21


Today Tipping Point North South’s Transform Defence for Sustainable Human Safety project releases its COP26 media pack to draw public, media and political attention to the absence at COP26 of any discussion on the role of military  greenhouse gas emissions on climate change or significant efforts to address it.

The media pack includes an Ice Sculpture Video; The Scotsman full page advert addressing G20 military emissions; Open Letter to High Level Champion on Climate Change; social media visuals and reports.

Currently, the G20 nations alone account for 87% of annual $2trillion military spending. Military budgets that in turn are locked into fossil fuel dependent hardware like the F-35 fighter jet, using 6000 litres/ 1585 gallons of fuel per flight hour.

Exempt from compulsory reporting of their GHG emissions makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of the global military’s overall contribution to climate heating. From the data available, emissions are estimated to be several percent of total global carbon emissions and at least comparable with the carbon emissions of civil aviation.

Modern militaries are completely dependent on fossil fuels with no sign of realistic or practical net-zero plans. At this COP26, Transform Defence’s primary demand is an IPCC Taskforce leading to an IPCC Special Report into the role of the global military and climate change. To reach net-zero, Transform Defence also calls for the global military to:

  • Decarbonise
  • Compulsorily report their emissions in full
  • Governments must also include their militaries in GHG reduction plans

In light of the recent IPCC Report Code Red for Humanity, along with all other aspects of human activity, of course the global military has to decarbonise. But this in turn presents another question – how should ‘defence’ look in a post-carbon, climate changed world? Has the time come to transform ‘defence’ in the face of the biggest collective threat to our safety – the fires, droughts, floods and biodiversity collapse of runaway climate change?

As the richer nations, themselves responsible for the historic burden of GHG emissions, shamefully struggle to raise $100bn annual climate finance for poorer nations, it is worth noting that just one year of global military spending ($2tr) would deliver 20 years of international climate finance.

Electric killer drones, solar panels on military bases or biofuels are also not the solution, but a distraction. To green-wash killing is not acceptable. It cannot be a substitute for the serious demilitarisation options we must consider. We need new ways of framing ‘defence’ now more than ever before in modern human history.

Notes to editors:


A message to COP26 – the global military and big oil remain indivisible. Climate chaos shows us it’s a relationship that has had its day. So, what next?

Photos and a video are available here.
Twitter version is here.
Facebook version is here.

Ice Sculpture by Hamilton Ice Sculptors

THE SCOTSMAN full page advert Open Letter to COP26 Co-Chairs UK and Italy; G20 nations

Academics, NGOs, activists and creatives support a call for G20 militaries to come clean on their carbon emissions ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow. The 33 signatories comprise an international list from science, academia, international development, environment, peace and the arts.


In 2016, total public expenditures on climate change (international and domestic) amounted to US$141 billion while global military expenditures were US$1.7 trillion.[1] On average, the expenditure of national governments on climate change amounted to 8.5% of what they spent on defence, a ratio of 12:1.[2] Since 2016, global military spending has gone up significantly.

Global military spending, sustainable human safety and value for money

Had the US$2 trillion estimated global total lifetime cost of F-35 programme been applied to the activities/areas/agencies below this is what the global community would be receiving instead any one of the following:

  • Climate finance for 20 years
  • UN disaster response for the next 400 years
  • UN disaster risk reduction for the next 4,000 years
  • Global biodiversity conservation at US$100bn per annum for the next 20 years
  • WHO at US$2bn per annum for the next 1,000 years
  • WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for 2,963 years
  • Global pandemic surveillance and control at US$8bn per annum for the next 250 years
  • UN peacekeeping operations at current US$5bn per annum for the next 444 years
  • UN peacekeeping at US$15bn per annum for the next 133 years


is a project comprising a number of elements including the Five Percent Proposal and the case that military spending is an urgent international development issue; the global military’s impact on climate change and human insecurity; the absence in UN processes of the global military’s emissions accounting; and Green New Deal Plus.

Transform Defence for Sustainable Human Safety ​describes the paradigm shift we need for all defence, security​, foreign and international development​ policies​ in a climate changed, post-pandemic world.

Transform Defence challenges NGOs and policy-makers alike to undertake a practical, imaginative, brave discussion about redefining and re-making foreign and defence policy such that it is truly fit-for-purpose, understanding its role in climate change, pandemic, economic, racial and gender injustice and why all these issues must be part of any system change process.

Tipping Point North South is a London based co-operative. Its projects include cinema documentaries (We Are Many, Open Bethlehem,) and events (Bethlehem Unwrapped, Make Apartheid History). Transform Defence is its latest advocacy initiative. 

TPNS was founded by former senior Christian Aid trade, tax and climate justice campaigners.


Deborah Burton


T: 020 8847 0377