COP27, SHARM EL-SHEIKH, 6-18 November 2022
MILITARY EMISSIONS & SPENDING SUCCESSFULLY MOVED UP THE AGENDA
Like thousands of others at Sharm El-Sheikh we too applauded the victory of those who finally managed to get Loss and Damage across the line. After years of digging in their heels, rich countries were finally shamed into creating a fund for Loss and Damage finance, realising they could no longer kick the L&D ‘can’ down road. But in so many other ways, Egypt’s COP was an abject failure. As one UN official said, COP is ‘at a crossroads’. As others have described it, it has become ‘a bloated travelling circus’. Attending for the first time, it was clear to see: the trade show element is unnecessary with big country pavilions, private sector stands, fossil fuel lobby presence. COP needs paring right back and replaced with a meaningful global civil society presence.
On our topic, some good news. COP27 proved to be really productive for Tipping Point North South (TPNS), with a major side event on emissions as well as a publication launch on military spending, Climate Collateral. Our Transform Defence twitter account has comprehensive coverage of COP27-related military emissions and spending; here is Deb’s side event presentation and all media coverage is here. The side event ended up being a major story for Guardian, Bloomberg and AFP, leading to 450 downloads of our Perspectives/TPNS June military emissions report during COP itself, bringing a total of 1240 downloads since publication.
Overall, we made progress in taking military emissions and spending to senior UN representatives, a number of country delegates and we reached a wider global audience via the extensive side event media / social media coverage.
Deb & Ho-Chih
COP27 SIDE EVENT
On 9th November our Blue Zone side event took place at COP27. ‘Dealing with Military and conflict-related emissions under the UNFCCC’ was hosted by the government of Ukraine and UK development agency CAFOD. 150 attended, including media outlets, UN observer organizations party to various climate talks and civil society groups. This side event was the result of conversations which developed from the publication of our June 2022 report by Axel Michaelowa et al Military and Conflict-Related Emissions: Kyoto to Glasgow and Beyond. Ukraine presented their latest findings on the emissions resulting to date from Russia’s invasion. Following on from Axel Michaelowa’s report presentation, TPNS concluded the event with a presentation by Deborah Burton (transcript here)
COP27 REPORT LAUNCH
On 14th November at COP27 we launched our co-published report ‘Climate Collateral: How military spending is accelerating climate breakdown’. We joined with the Transnational Institute and Stop Wappenhandel (Netherlands) to connect the dots between military emissions, military spending and climate finance. It also addressed links between this issue and Green New Deals, as well as COP27 host country Egypt’s role in arms sales and human rights abuses.
Combined, these two activities were able to make considerable in-roads in bringing military emissions and military spending to a range of audiences inside the Blue Zone.
COP27 RAISING THE ISSUE OF MILITARY EMISSIONS
Our emissions work has a triple focus on UNFCCC (submission on emissions), IPCC (on the AR7-cycle agenda) and Global Stocktake (of emissions for COP28). Our COP27 side event and written materials were brought to the attention of senior figures at both the IPCC and Global Stocktake; UNEP and UNDP. Introductory conversations on UNFCCC submission idea with Climate Vulnerable Forum members and a number of national country delegations.
COP27 RAISING THE ISSUE OF MILITARY SPENDING
Loss and Damage & Climate Finance
Loss and Damage funding for developing countries already devastated by climate change is a major call at this COP27. We were able to make interventions at some of the key Loss and Damage side events to bring attention to the $2trillion p/a spent on (the bigger oil-dependent) militaries as an obvious and legitimate source to tap for L&D finance. It was a privilege to be able to introduce this topic to Climate Vulnerable Forum representatives and Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate.
MEDIA/SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE
A considerable amount of media coverage was secured for both the side event & report. Guardian, Bloomberg and Agence France Press ran our side event as a major COP27 story, with our emissions stat and other quotes reported. The influential Climate Action Network also covered our event in their daily newsletter ECO. During the COP27 period, there were more than 450 downloads of our Military and Conflict Related Emissions report from our website.
Democracy Now (USA) and Naomi Klein promoted the TNI/TPNS/SW Climate Collateral military spending report. Social media pick-up was strong for both, with tweets by TNI and partners (IPB, GCOMS, The Left in the European Parliament, Centre Delàs etc) promoting the report attracting hundreds of retweets and likes, reaching hundreds of thousands people on Twitter, and the report’s video securing more than 1.2m views on TikTok.
All side event and report media here.
Our COP27 attendance was made possible with support from CAFOD, Global Justice Now, Jam Today, MAW.
Climate change is a rich-world driven phenomena, many decades in the making. Rich countries of the Global North are collectively responsible for 92% of emissions while Asia, Africa, Latin America accounts for only 8%, with most countries in the Global South (China and Brazil excluded) contributing nothing to the climate crisis. There is a parallel story and it is one that connects military spending, emissions, accountability and re-distribution. It is yet one more lens through which to understand the intersection of power, money, climate change and historic responsibility.
The G20 nations comprise 87% of annual global military spending, which is, in turn, spent on gas-guzzling jets, tanks, warships etc. Clearly, at $2 trillion per annum (and rising), military spending is a far greater priority than the climate chaos reality being lived day in day out by hundreds of millions of children, women and men across the global south. In 2020, public climate finance was estimated to be $321bn, less than one sixth of the $1981bn sum spent by global militaries in the same year. Since 2015, the G7 and other industrialised countries have committed to spend $100bn a year under UNFCCC to support climate action in developing countries. The pledge was never fulfilled. One-year’s global military spend would fund climate finance for 20 years.The $2 trillion global lifetime cost of the F-35 fighter jets could have funded UN disaster risk reduction for the next 4,000 years; or global biodiversity conservation at $100bn p/a for the next 20 years or WHO funding at $2bn p/a for the next 1,000 years.
Critically, we need to address the undisclosed nature of much of the global military’s emissions. There is no accurate account of military emissions, in peacetime or war because the global military is currently exempt from compulsory reporting of GHG emissions to the UN/IPCC. Some countries, including the USA, the UK and Germany, voluntarily partially report, but this needs only to follow the IPCC template and codes which have only a handful of items mentioning domestic military-related activities.