Home > Uncategorized > Connecting up the dots of war, austerity and climate change

Connecting up the dots of war, austerity and climate change


This last weekend, there was a Stop the War rally in London on the Saturday to protest about the government’s plans to bomb Syria, which many members of Eastbourne People’s Assembly attended. Then on the Sunday, there was a People’s March for Climate, Jobs and Justice, also in London, to demand urgent action to deal with climate change, at which some members of the Eastbourne People’s Assembly, alongside members of Eastbourne Friends of the Earth, were also present. Why did so many Eastbourne people attend these protests? Because these two massive protests, back to back, at the heart of our parliamentary democracy, point to a subtler and deeper connection between war, climate change, and austerity in general: war, with all its fossil fuel guzzling weapons of death, has a massive carbon footprint, one which is, bizarrely, not taken into account in the emissions calculations upon which the UN climate negotiations depend, and bombing Syria only adds to that carbon footprint, piling stupidity onto the appalling barbarity of killing civilians through saturation, round-the-clock bombing of Syria already carried out by the US, France, and Russia, bombing which is creating ever more Syrian refugees, many of whom are trying to find sanctuary in Europe. The bombing in Syria is particularly bad because oilfields and oil trucks are often targeted, leading to huge increases in carbon emissions as those oil stocks explode.

So it is richly ironic that, at a time when the crucial UN climate talks in Paris are going on, the government is only focussed on its plans for bombing Syria rather than talking about the climate change that such bombing would exacerbate. The irony is heightened by the fact that at a time of supposed austerity and the need – according to the government – to reduce public spending (including reducing spending on the measures necessary to, for example, prevent homes from flooding due to climate change impacts), the government itself proposes increasing public spending massively by funding a hugely expensive bombing campaign that has no spending limits attached to it! In Eastbourne, which is in the front-line of climate change due to the rising sea levels and increasing severity of storm surges caused by global warming, we should be acutely aware of how important it is to prevent catastrophic climate change. So we should fight both the the austerity that will deprive Eastbourne of adequate funds for flood defences and climate change adaptation and the military spending that funds fossil fuel driven wars in the Middle East that only make climate change worse and reduces both our security from terrorism and our security from the impacts of climate change.

I and many of my friends and colleagues in the Eastbourne area are opposed to austerity in all its forms and that includes opposition to government proposals, such as the plans to bomb Syria, which are not only inhumane in their own right, but also contradict the basis of its own austerity principles as well as undermining it own public commitments to deal with climate change seriously. To talk of austerity for us taxpayers at home whilst urging unlimited spending on war abroad and ignoring the impacts of those policies upon the safety of our climate future both at home and abroad is deeply irresponsible and a dereliction of the government’s duty to protect its own citizens.

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