“Our key messages are that militarism is a central pillar of the extractive systems that are causing climate change and that not only does climate change cause war, but that war causes climate change.”
By Angie Zelter, XR Peace
Huge biodiversity declines, nuclear war and climate destruction are threatening all life on earth. Both planetary overheating due to fossil-fuelled greed, and planetary freezing and radiation caused by nuclear weapons, threaten humanity with extinction.
We have to pull back from the insane military-industrial growth and dominance of our lives and economies if we are going to survive on a habitable planet.
UK peace movements decided in 2019 to join Extinction Rebellion (XR) as XR Peace to ensure that the military boot-print of greenhouse gas emissions would not be ignored in the climate change debates and protests. XR Peace is a network of 17 peace organisations with a website and is posting articles and reports on the role of militarism and war in the climate crisis.
We demand that resources spent on the military are instead used to address the climate emergency. Our key messages are that militarism is a central pillar of the extractive systems that are causing climate change and that not only does climate change cause war, but that war causes climate change. More than 6% of global carbon emissions are from military activity.
Climate change is already a significant cause of conflicts and is a key factor driving the refugee crisis, because of droughts, floods and other extreme weather events that cause food shortages, displacement and destruction of entire communities and ecosystems.
As the climate crisis gains pace there will be increasing tension and more wars. Armed conflicts driven by the desire to control scarce resources rather than share them equitably have increased the risk of nuclear war as international relations continue to deteriorate, with more state actors resorting to violence, internally and externally.
The use of just a fraction of the nuclear weapons deployed globally could result in a “nuclear winter” leading to global famine and the death of two billion people. As long as countries continue to prepare for and resort to war as a means of solving conflict we will not be able to address climate change. To avert catastrophe we must find new ways of thinking and work together to save our shared home.
XR Peace demands the government work to reduce international tensions, avoid war as a method of resolving conflict, end the arms trade, eliminate nuclear weapons, dramatically reduce military spending and redirect resources currently in the MOD budget to address the threat of climate catastrophe that now faces all peoples of the earth.
XR Peace are joining XR nationally, along with many other social change and justice organisations, to show major public support for the changes needed to avert catastrophe at this late hour. From 21st April 2023 these groups will surround the UK Parliament and invite the general public to join them in demanding an immediate end to new fossil fuel investment. A plan prepared by a Citizen’s Assembly would take us out of fossil fuels by 2030 in a way that is just for everyone and for all life on our planet.
Will the left help build the biggest people-powered campaign XR has ever attempted?
For the first time, XR is not aiming for arrests but rather demonstrating faith in a critical mass of people that is inclusive and impossible to ignore. They are inviting all people, all groups, all organisations to come together and co-design an action which shares the great wealth of knowledge and organising power that our movements have when combined.
The target is for 100,000 people, from all walks of life – to gather peacefully in large numbers at the UK’s seat of power, the Houses of Parliament, and maintain a continued presence over a number of days. During those days, contributing organisations can collaborate or carry out their own activities, knowing that there is amplification, support and strength in numbers. Multiple voices will combine to deliver a coherent message. This is bigger than XR, this has to include all of us.
It is a unique opportunity to unite across divides for effective action, with an amazing potential for change. The left should be there with their messages of equality and social justice for all. Everything is linked, and we have a responsibility to deliver an effective strategy for change. We have long recognised that the climate crisis is connected to all of our social issues; the cost of living crisis is the price of uncontrolled capitalism and inequality, which also drives climate inaction. It’s no surprise that across almost every sector, unions are re-energised and strikes are taking place. Now is the time for consolidating cooperation between groups, movements and all of humanity.
The government’s unlawful plans for business and profits as usual have never been so transparently flawed and widely understood. A fresh approach to politics is needed now, to make the kind of decisions required of us in the 21st century. In order to achieve this we need to come together, and avoid descending into factional arguments, that divide us when we need to be united. We can only survive through co-operation. XR have recognised this necessity for us to collaborate to create a positive, irreversible, societal tipping point.
“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish – It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact — or a Collective Suicide Pact. The blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction” – Antonio Guterres CoP27.
You are needed, we are needed, everyone is needed. The Labour Movement might want to put its own demands forward – support for public services and the trade unions, protection for protesters and whistle-blowers, for instance – it is up to you to decide. But be there with us.
- XR Peace is inviting activists to form their own blocs during the protest or to join XR Peace for demonstration on April 21st. Find out more here.
- Angie is a writer and an activist for XR Peace, you can grab a copy of her latest book “Activism for Life” here.
- You can follow XR Peace on Facebook and Twitter.