Wars, (the) Military, Climate change
International conference (4-5-6 December, 2015)
A number of French and international organisations met in Paris 4-6 December to explore the relationships between climate/ecological crises, conflicts/conflictuality, and military activities. As well as exploring how military activities impacts on environment, military strategies, it also analysed how security/military responses to environmental crises affect vulnerable groups and create winners and losers. Full programme available at https://www.tni.org/en/event/wars-military-climate
Sponsoring organisations included: the Transnational Institute (TNI), Assemblée européenne des citoyens (Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly HCA-France), together with its partners of IPAM network (Initiatives for Another World), the International Peace Bureau (IPB/BPI), the Catholic Committee CCFD Terre Solidaire, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN-France), the French Association of Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (AMFPGN), the House of vigilance, the Observatoire des armements and CRDPC, the Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP Brussels), the MIR (IFOR France), the Coordination pour l’éducation à la non-violence et à la paix, and, Statewatch, Friends of the Earth, ATTAC, Focus on the Global South, Scientists for Global Responsibility etc.
On Friday 4th December, there were a series of meetings on nuclear power, geoengineering and the carbon ‘bootprint’ of the military
The meeting was taking place in the Centre International de culture Populaire, an independent and self-managed house, dedicated to international solidarity, created in the 1970s.
In the introductive session Military activities, strategy, climate. Alain Joxe, expert in geopolitics, professor at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, www.ehess.fr/cirpes explained that the “climate insecurity” was also a question of social classes, of threat for the poorest and dispossessed, and of “securisation /militarisation” by dominants. Ben Cramer, journalist specialist on the questions of military and ecology, www.athena21.org underlined the importance of this “climate threat” for the armies and military-industrial complex to justify new budgets, new programs, etc. While climate justice would be a factor of peace and reduction of military expenses a means to finance Green Fund. Patrice Bouveret, director of the Observatoire des armements, www.obsarm.org spoked about the issues of disarmament and in particular nuclear disarmament.
Bernard Dreano from AEC (Helsinki Citizens Assembly France) www.aechca.fr and IPAM network www.reseau-ipam.org explained that the Carbon print of the military activities had been expelled from the climate negotiations, IPCC expertise, etc., which introduced the second session was about the ENMOD Convention and the questions about geoengineering
Luc Mamprey director of the Brussels’ based GRIP (Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security) www.grip.org, explained the importance of the ENMOD United Nation convention, which forbid any modification of environment for “hostile purpose” (a Convention signed by most of the big powers except France), while Alain Lipietz, Former Member of the European Parliament, www.lipietz.net, discussed the importance of the international laws (ENMOD, Geneva Conventions, etc.) to defend environment and peace. Then the debate with the audience, focused on the relationship between the mobilization of public opinion and movements for the defense of peace and the improvement of international law and its application, with contributions, among others, of Jean Marc Lavieille, professor of International law in Limoges University. Pat Mooney, founder of ETC Group (Erosion, Technology, Concentration) www.etcgroup.org, returned in detail on the issues of geo-engineering, military or civilian (so called,) and the threats that these projects and proposals are.
The third session was devoted to Nuclear threat and Climate. The first part was devoted to military nuclear threat and foreseeable climate damage (including world hunger) presented by Abraham Behar, president of IPPNW France (International Physician for the Prevention of Nuclear War), www.amfpgn.org, and www.ippnw.org. The role of nuclear tests on the climate (including radioactive remanence) was discussed. In a video, Alan Robock, member of the IPCC estimates that this role remains modest in view of the major implications of a localized conflict described in his model. The second part of Michel Fernex (Professor in University of Geneva) explained how the use of nuclear energy remains a false solution to climate change. Climate change is a direct threat for atomic reactors as Fukushima, he recently visited.
Saturday 5 December am – The environmental dimension of conflictsOn Saturday, there were some hiccups with rooms – our allocated room was full of students! – but once that was sorted out we kicked off with some fascinating presentations by Middle East scholars on the links between military conflict and the impact on the environment, case of the Middle East.
Jacques Fontaine, from Association France Palestine Solidarité www.france-palestine.org began by speaking about the Israel-Palestine conflict and the unjust distribution of water resources.
Samira Mobaied, a Syrian ecologist than shared the untold story of how the Syrian conflict is affecting the country’s rich environment and also how communities are using traditional herbs and medicines to heal in the absence of access to medicine. Ismael Dawood from the Iraqi Civil Society Support Initiative, www.iraqicivilsociety.org explained how water was being used a weapon in Iraq. A major dam in Turkey, the Illusu dam threatens the prized biodiverse region of Iraqi marshlands. Meanwhile ISIS, Daesh are threatening to capture critical water resources. Ercan Ayboga from the Mesopotamia Ecology Movement, also spoke of how dams were being used as security tools by the Turkish government in Ku rdish regions. www.facebook.com/mezopotamyaekolojihareket .But it’s also important to remember, water does not have to be a source of conflict. It can be the basis for cooperation – the only lasting solution to a climate crisis.
Colonizing the future – the Military-Industrial complex and Climate change
In the afternoon, the discussion turned to military strategies for responding to climate change.
Jagoda Munic, chair of Friends of the Earth International www.foe.org started the session. Stuart Parkinson from Scientists for Global Responsibility www.sgr.org.uk then talked through the UK’s new security strategy and how it seeks to increase budgets for the military while reducing efforts (and money) to tackle climate change.
April Humble from the Earth League Secretariat www.the-earth-league.org then gave a compelling insight into how the militarisation of EU’s borders affects migrants from her own visits to Turkey. It is also disturbingly part of a worldwide trend of border militarisation. Ben Cramer gave some important context to the history of ecology and security and how militarism contributes to climate change and insecurity.
Challenging securitisation of our Climate-changed World
In the final session, we explored how corporate strategies for securitisation dovetail with military strategies. Oscar Reyes of Institute for Policy Studies www.ips-dc.org explained how corporate strategies seek to either minimise risk or profit from climate change impacts – in both cases the aim is to maintain business as usual regardless of whether it worsens the climate crisis.
The session finished with two presentations by Green Politicians – Leila Aichi, a French Green Senate MP and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Senatorial Commission and Jill Stein, a Green Party US Presidential Candidate.