Anniversaries & films; talks & UN submissions

Anniversaries & films; talks & UN submissions

Dear friends, supporters and colleagues,

It hardly seems possible but it is 20 years since the world mobilised to speak out and tell their governments ‘Not in Our Name’ – no invasion of Iraq. Marches took place on every continent, including Antarctica.

Did it stop the war? No. Were the arguments made by those against the invasion proven right? Yes. Deborah Burton and Ho-Chih Lin have co-written a blog with Amir Amirani, director of We Are Many to mark this 20th anniversary. One of the core messages of the film – foreign and defence policy-making built upon lies and misinformation can only lead to long term often catastrophic consequences – now remains at the heart of our Transform Defence project.

BLOG: We Are Many – More Than Ever

Reflecting on 20 years since the global anti-Iraq war marches and the invasion that followed  

In the nine years of the Iraq War, according to the Costs of Wars Project, around 300,000 people (including civilians) were killed directly and many more killed indirectly. The invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition was estimated to have released around 250 million tCO2e. Despite this enormous climate impact, there is a shocking lack of transparency and accountability to the UNFCCC for this particular sector. Ever rising military budgets fund the big GHG emitting hardware. The richest countries are spending 30 times as much on their armed forces as they spend on providing climate finance for the world’s most vulnerable countries

Read the blog here.
Watch the film here.

TALK: Military Emissions, Military Spending and Climate Change, Drexel University USA

Post COP27 Deborah was invited to give a webinar as part of a series for Drexel University’s Green Infrastructure, Climate and Cities programme followed by a panel discussion with Prof Franco Montalto and Kristy Kelly PhD, a specialist in gender and development.

Watch the talk here.
Also delighted to have joined CODEPINK in the USA for a webinar on unpacking COP27 – the highs and the lows; what was achieved for the issue of military emissions and spending; and what we might expect from COP28 in Dubai.

FILM: MLK Global

MLK Day 16 January: To mark MLK Day our MLK Global team – Yolande Cadore in NYC, Dionne Gravesande and Deborah Burton – wrote this piece.

March 29th:  We look forward to returning to Union Chapel in Islington, north London, for another screening of the outstanding film: From Montgomery to Memphis. Check Union Chapel website for more information nearer the date.

UN SUBMISSION: Missing Military Emissions

The Global Stocktake is a new UNFCCC process to gather information on GHG emissions with the results to be presented at COP28 this year in Dubai. The stocktake enables the assessment of global collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation and support.

Critically, the process needs information about what is not being ‘counted’ and unreported military emissions are just that. We are working to get military emissions on the Global Stocktake and with seven other research and advocacy groups (Europe & USA) we have just made a joint submission based on the recommendations of our June 2022 report on military emissions reporting to the UNFCCC.


Follow our various activities on social media


UNFCCC Global Stocktake Submission

UNFCCC Global Stocktake Submission

The Global Stocktake is a new UNFCCC process to gather information on GHG emissions. With seven other research and advocacy groups (Europe & USA), TPNS has made a joint submission for military emissions. 

Download ‘Submission to the UNFCCC Global Stocktake: Military and Conflict Emissions‘ [PDF]



Reflecting on twenty years since the historic global anti-Iraq war marches.

Amir Amirani, director of We Are Many , Deborah Burton & Ho-Chih Lin  

This 15 February 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the unprecedented global anti-war protest against the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq. The story of this amazing day was retold in Amir Amirani’s highly acclaimed cinema documentary ‘We Are Many’ released in 2015 and a film for which Tipping Point North South was proud to have been an early funder through its Film Fund. We Are Many was an important film in many ways, not least in how it made clear the disastrous (and deceitful) USA and UK foreign policy decisions that have led to more than two decades of conflict in the region. And the film also makes clear how the war in Iraq was founded upon a lie – the lie that the US political class told their citizens: that Saddam Hussein was implicated in 9/11. He was not. As British journalist Peter Oborne says in the film, it was clear that those calling for no war in the UK (the peace movement and others) knew more than the foreign office and civil service, since those anti-war voices were utterly vindicated as the war took its toll.


  • In the nine years of the Iraq War, according to the Costs of Wars Project, around 300,000 people (including civilians) were killed directly and many more killed indirectly.
  • The invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition was estimated to have released around 250 million tCO2e.
  • At COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh it was revealed how significant military emissions in peacetime and war were, estimated to be 5% of global GHG emissions.
  • Despite this enormous climate impact, there is a shocking lack of transparency and accountability to the UNFCCC for this particular sector.
  • Ever rising military budgets fund the big GHG emitting hardware. The richest countries are spending 30 times as much on their armed forces as they spend on providing climate finance for the world’s most vulnerable countries.


The terrible and enormous human, economic and societal costs of the Iraq war and the conflicts that followed have combined to leave a scar on our global collective conscience. Yet those lessons have not been learned.

The global War on Terror is still ongoing, albeit to a much lesser degree since the end of the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq and, as of February 2022, we saw the invasion of another sovereign country by a military superpower, namely the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Once again, the media has been broadcasting images and footage of the catastrophic toll on innocent children, women and men.

And the coverage of Ukraine has also been revealing something else – the toll on the environment, on our climate and in a way the Iraq war never did.

In the nine years of the Iraq War, according to the Costs of Wars Project, around 300,000 people (including civilians) were killed directly and many more killed indirectly. If all the wars in the US-led global War on Terror were considered, the total direct casualties would be estimated to be nearly 1 million and total US war spending between 2001 -2022, $8 trillion.

But there was one ‘cost’ that had neglected and it was the climate cost because military greenhouse gas emissions in war – at that time – was generally absent from both media coverage and climate policy-making.

The invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition was estimated to have released around 250 million tCO2e. Professor Neta Crawford estimates accumulated emissions of the USA military at 1.3 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent for the war-intensive period 2001-2018, with war-related activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria responsible for 440 million tCO2e between 2001 and 2018.

The destruction during wars of natural or man-made carbon stocks such as forests, energy infrastructure and oil wells can also reach hundreds of millions tCO2e. The burning and reconstruction of cities during and after a country-wide conflict can readily release emissions on a similar scale.

Moreover, the disposal of rubble and rebuilding from infrastructure destruction is a long carbon intensive process. A UNEP programme manager said of the Iraq cleanup – ‘the amount of trucking and emissions that would be required to dispose of this debris is like travelling from the earth to the moon multiple times’.

And for Iraq you could read Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Ukraine. The list is endless. We have no idea of the cumulative GHG emissions impact of these 21st century wars, let alone what went before in the wars of the 20th century.


Fast forward to 2022 and COP27 Sharm El-Sheikh where an official Blue Zone side event entitled ‘Dealing with military and conflict-related emissions under the UNFCCC’ was hosted by the Ukraine government and CAFOD, making a welcome change on this otherwise hidden issue.

The event had been the result of conversations developed as a result of Tipping Point North South’s June 2022 report by Axel Michaelowa et al., ‘Military and Conflict-Related Emissions: Kyoto to Glasgow and Beyond’ and presented at the COP27 event alongside a groundbreaking report by the Ukraine government ‘Climate damage caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine’. In producing the first country accounting of GHG emissions in conflict, the Ukraine report inevitably showed how much information is missing from other conflicts, past and present. It also highlighted another truth: there has not been anywhere near the same level of military emissions detail on Iraq or Syria or other conflicts. The Ukraine report also proved that if governments want to, and vitally, have the capacity to calculate emissions from war, it can be done.

At Sharm El-Sheikh it revealed just how significant military emissions are in peacetime and war.  Along with the supply chain – the makers of the jets, warships, missiles, bombs and bullets – and based on partial and patchy data (because reporting is voluntary) it’s estimated at 5.5% of global GHG emissions. Some 2,750 tCO2e estimated for the carbon footprint of the world’s militaries and associated military technology industry makes it comparable to the combined emissions of civilian aviation (2%) and civilian shipping (3%) sectors.

Notably, this figure does not yet include conflict-related sources, including emissions from infrastructure or landscape fires, the degradation of carbon sinks, post-conflict reconstruction and healthcare for victims. Yet given this enormous climate impact, there is a shocking lack of transparency and accountability for this particular sector.

Just the first seven months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been estimated to be responsible for at least 100 million tCO2e. For comparison, Ukraine’s total CO2 emissions in 2021 (prior to the invasion in 2022) was 185 million tonnes. Conflict-related emissions are substantial, even before we take account of the human suffering and the long-term environmental degradation and pollution.


And the other side of the coin is this: ever rising  military budgets fund the big GHG emitting hardware. Tipping Point North South took a second report to COP27 – ‘Climate Collateral: How military spending is accelerating climate breakdown’ where we joined with the Transnational Institute and Stop Wappenhandel (Netherlands) to connect the dots between military emissions, military spending and climate finance and revealed that the richest countries (categorised as Annex II in the UN climate talks) are spending 30 times as much on their armed forces as they spend on providing climate finance for the world’s most vulnerable countries, which they are legally bound to do. And just one year’s military spending by the top 10 military spenders would pay for promised international climate finance for 15 years (at $100bn a year).

The possibility of keeping global temperature change below 1.5°C is rapidly receding, with global heating on track for the calamitous 3°C. At this late stage, every single effort to reduce emissions matters and this is especially true when it relates to such a major sectoral emitter, and a source – conflicts – whose emissions dynamics have historically been ignored.

To reduce military emissions we have to start by reducing excessive military spending – there is no way round it. Simply put, fossil fuels are the lifeblood of modern militaries, more military spending directly leads to more military emissions. The War on Terror, especially the Iraq War,  kick-started the dramatic decades-long growth in military spending, with the United States spending more than the next top 10 military spenders combined. Where the US leads, the rest follow – global military spending is now more than $2 trillion a year, much more than what we spent during the Cold War.

Meantime, Loss and Damage needs major funding commitment and climate finance for developing countries needs to have the $100bn annual commitment made real not least for the peoples of the many post 9/11 conflicts so hard hit by 20 years of conflict, and who themselves now live with the terrible impacts of climate change.

The big military spending nations are not only up to their eyes in that post 9/11 catastrophe, their militaries also contributed to climate change itself as a result of their military activities there. We need look no further for Loss and Damage funding than inside the insane levels of spending on weaponry, all useless in the face of the greatest threat to our collective safety: climate chaos.

Amir Amirani, Producer/Director, We Are Many

Deborah Burton, Tipping Point North South, and Executive Producer, We Are Many

Dr. Ho-Chih Lin, Transform Defence Project, and Associate Producer, We Are Many

COP27 Attendance and Progress

COP27 Attendance and Progress

COP27, SHARM EL-SHEIKH, 6-18 November 2022


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. Continue reading

Media Release: Richest Nations Spending 30 Times as Much on Military as Climate Finance

Media Release: Richest Nations Spending 30 Times as Much on Military as Climate Finance


As the world’s climate negotiators gather in Egypt for the 27th annual climate talks, a new report reveals that military spending is deepening the climate crisis by increasing emissions, diverting money and fuelling conflict in the most climate-vulnerable countries.

The report, Climate Collateral, produced by the international research organisation, Transnational Institute, together with Stop Wapenhandel (Netherlands) and Tipping Point North South (UK) examines the impact of rising global military spending on the climate crisis. It finds that:

  • The richest nations (known as ‘Annex 2’ countries in UN climate negotiations) are spending 30 times as much on military as on climate finance 
  • The increase in military spending has led to rises in military greenhouse gas emissions, calculated to currently make up 5.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Rather than providing climate finance, Annex 2 countries are selling arms to 40 of the most climate-vulnerable nations fuelling conflict and instability as the climate crisis deepens

Continue reading

10 Talking Points for a Difficult Conversation 

10 Talking Points for a Difficult Conversation 

To mark UN International Day of Peace TPNS is releasing its latest publication How to Transform Defence for Sustainable Human Safety: 10 Talking Points for a Difficult Conversation.

It is an attempt to offer up a framework that tries to envision how we get a much better deal for the world’s citizens from the abject failure of past and current foreign and defence policies that sees us stagger from one war to the next; the world carved up according to spheres of influence; stupid narrow mindsets prevailing over catastrophic climate change and more than 6 million dead due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is an attempt to think through the ‘how, what and why’ of a difficult conversation – the move from 19th and 20th century framing of foreign and defence policy such that it really is fit for purpose in a 21st and 22nd century climate changed world, all the time fully recognising that every person, community, society, nation, region needs protection from aggressors and terrorists and it is the job of government to defend its citizens from such threats.

But change it must. Continue reading

Open Letter to UN Sec General as we enter 6th month of Russia’s invasion

Open Letter to UN Sec General as we enter 6th month of Russia’s invasion

As we enter the sixth month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine TPNS has written an Open Letter to Antonio Guterres. It calls on him to consider concrete proposals that address runaway military spending and excess profits by defence companies.

Is excessive military spending coupled with defence industry excess profits a legitimate source to tap for climate finance?  Has the time come to think about the concept of Carbon Neutral Peace and Defence?

Read the open letter here.

Military Emissions in Peace and War – Pushing it up the UN’s Climate Agenda

Military Emissions in Peace and War – Pushing it up the UN’s Climate Agenda

Military emissions in peacetime and war  getting this onto the UNFCCC agenda

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters,

The TV pictures of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – tanks, jets, missiles and smashed up infrastructure – has meant that the world is now, finally and belatedly, looking at war and conflict through the climate change lens. It is doing so in a way it never did for Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria or any other conflict in recent times.

World leaders will have to finally deal with the climate impact of conflict as they head into the G7 summit in Germany.

To coincide with the G7 Summit in Germany 26-28 June, a new technical report with a companion advocacy briefing, commissioned by Tipping Point North South and written by Perspectives Climate Group (Germany), explores the military emissions ‘reporting gap’, both in peacetime and war. Military and conflict-related emissions: Kyoto to Glasgow and beyond offers a much needed robust set of proposals to address this within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The report is covered here in Deutsche Welle, published today. Continue reading

Stockholm+50 and Global Military Emissions: Ideas for Discussion

Stockholm+50 and Global Military Emissions: Ideas for Discussion

To mark the UN gathering Stockholm+50, Transform Defence has published its briefing Stockholm+50 and Global Military Emissions: Ideas for Discussion. We are honoured to have the foreword written by Professor Saleemul Huq , Chair of the Expert Advisory Panel for the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Continue reading

MLK film & Transform Defence at Union Chapel

MLK film & Transform Defence at Union Chapel

To mark April 4th, the date of MLK’s assassination, TPNS was invited to host a screening of ‘From Montgomery to Memphis’ on 26 March at the  Union Chapel Islington .

‘From Montgomery to Memphis’ was released in 1970, and follows Dr.King’s 13 years of civil rights activism, from his first bus boycotts to his assassination on April 4th, 1968.  In 1967, MLK addressed the ‘triple evils’ of poverty, racism and militarism. His analysis was that they were indivisible. His analysis remains as relevant then as today and is at the heart of our MLK Global project.

Ahead of the screening, and linked to the MLK theme of ‘The Beloved Community’, TPNS was invited to give a talk about its work in general and its Transform Defence project in particular – especially the links between military spending and military emissions. It also includes reference to its MLK Global work.The TPNS programme began with a short COP26 related video, a 20min presentation by Deborah Burton and closed with a video on the topic of the inter-generational nature of campaign and change.  As Nelson Mandela said: ‘It seem impossible until it’s done’.


What has global military spend & emissions got to do with development?

What has global military spend & emissions got to do with development?

On behalf of Transform Defence, Deborah was delighted to be a guest blogger on Duncan Green’s From Poverty to Power website.

Dr Duncan Green is Senior Strategic Adviser at Oxfam GB, Professor in Practice in International Development at the London School of Economics, honorary Professor of International Development at Cardiff University and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies. He is author of How Change Happens (OUP, October 2016) and From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States can Change the World (Oxfam International, 2008, second edition 2012). His daily development blog can be found on Continue reading

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season

Wishing you a peaceful holiday season

Dear friends, supporters and colleagues,

We hope you have managed to get through the year safe and well.  It has been one more pain-filled year with terrible climate related disasters; widespread hunger in many countries; loss of life as inflatable boats go down in cold seas.

COVID also continued its course as the impact of ‘vaccine apartheid’ became ever clearer.  This shameful state of affairs, together with COP26 coming to the UK, meant that our primary activity would remain our Transform Defence project, launched last December 2020.

Embarking on this new (for us) policy/advocacy work, we set out to deliver a comprehensive set of reports and briefings that can offer new information, insights and roadmaps for ways out of the current failing foreign, defence and international development paradigm.

Afghanistan – back under Taliban control – is to see how deep this failure can go.  This is a catastrophe playing out alongside another: the all too forgotten impact of climate change on the country and its people.  And something else to at at the door of global foreign and defence policy failure is the ever-rising collective budget for high-end military hardware, nuclear weapons and space ‘dominance’ while desperate women, children and men – all too often fleeing the longstanding impact of our post 9/11 conflicts – drown in freezing waters just a few miles from our coastline.

Transform Defence for Sustainable Human Safety speaks to these and many other failures. During the past year, with a focus on G7/G20 and COP26 events, we have successfully laid a solid foundation for a number of specific ‘Transform Defence’ related calls on which to build – with partners – throughout 2022 and beyond.

Continue reading

COP26 Sharing our Ice Sculpture & Video, Scotsman Full Page Ad & more

COP26 Sharing our Ice Sculpture & Video, Scotsman Full Page Ad & more


In advance of COP26 (1-11 Nov), TPNS is releasing its Transform Defence media and resources pack.  We aim  to draw public, media and political attention to the absence of any official COP26 discussion on the role of military greenhouse gas emissions on climate change and therefore, the absence of any meaningful plan to address it.

Ice sculpture video; graphics & visuals; open letters (2) and reports (2)

Ice Sculpture Video & Scotsman Advert  
Twitter thread

Continue reading

Today marks UN International Peace Day

Today marks UN International Peace Day

To coincide with this and the UN General Assembly meeting September 14-27, Tipping Point North South’s Transform Defence project publishes its updated briefing:

‘Reset for the 21st century’: The Global Military and the United Nations

We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction yet the foreign and defence policies of nations around the world – especially the top 20 nations which allocate large sums to defence spending – are preoccupied with a plethora of adversarial and conventional threats on land, air, sea and space as well as with nuclear weapons, cyber weaponry and AI.

Meantime, climate change and pandemic are laying bare the magnitude and depth of the desperate state we are in. The post-pandemic global economy, coming not so long after the 2008 crash, will further compound this with ever greater poverty and inequality.

Alongside all past and present wars and conflicts, it seems we have also collectively declared war on ourselves and our planet. But no F-35 will stop New York City, Alexandria, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Venice, Bangkok, Mumbai and London going under water; no nuclear warhead will solve India and Pakistan’s disappearing water-table; no anti-terror AI will stop West Africa’s growing desertification.

The briefing pulls together the various ways in which the global military as whole- primarily the top 20 spenders and arms sellers- impact on the SDGs; on climate change itself;  and the intersection of both.

It explores:

  • Why the impact of the global military on climate change demands much more attention and scrutiny at UN level
  • Why we need to divert runaway military spending to make up the SDGs funding shortfall
  • How a wider debate on definitions of ‘security’ and ‘defence’ is of benefit to the UN and citizens of the world
  • Why a Security Council high level open debate is needed to bring all these inter-related issues together in order to frame an urgent new 21st century paradigm for security – that of ‘sustainable human safety’.

In light of the UN Secretary General’s call to ‘launch a reset for the 21st century,’ five recommendations are offered up as a way to explore a reset in relation to this much overlooked issue and in turn raise ever greater awareness, debate and action:

  • Apply rigorous evidence-based value-for-money approaches to military spending
  • Part-fund the $2-4 trillion SDGs 2021-2030 funding gap from escalating military budgets 2023-30 and beyond
  • Create a new UNFCCC TOPIC ‘Carbon Neutral Peace and Defence’ and fill the ‘Knowledge Gap’ across UN and national processes on the global military’s greatly under-estimated carbon bootprint
  • Make SDG 16 ‘Peaceful Societies’ much more challenging in its remit in relation to the global military and spending
  • Hold a Security Council high-level open debate on the impact of the global military on climate change and under-development and the concept of ‘Carbon Neutral Peace and Defence

In 2020, the UN issued a report on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary, in September 2020. In the Declaration (A/RES/75/1), Member States recognize that while there have been many achievements in the past 75 years, the world envisaged by the UN’s founders 75 years ago has not yet been realized: it is plagued by growing inequality, poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, terrorism, insecurity, climate change, and pandemics; people are forced to make dangerous journeys in search of refuge and safety; the LDCs are falling behind; and complete decolonization has not been achieved.

In 2021, the UN has mapped out how to take this forward with key proposals across the 12 commitments.

Recommendations from ‘Reset for the 21st century’: The Global Military and the United Nations connect with a number of items within the 12 proposals including:

    • Commit to the 1.5-degree Celsius goal and net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner
    • Package of support to developing countries
    • New agenda for peace
      • Invest in prevention and peacebuilding, including Peacebuilding Fund and Peacebuilding Commission
    • Support a Sustainable Development Goal investment boost, including through a last-mile alliance to reach those furthest behind
    • Future generations
      • Summit of the Future in 2023
      • Ensure long-term thinking, including through a United Nations Futures Lab
    • On global public health
      • Empowered WHO
      • Stronger global health security and preparedness


Climate change is increasingly a part of UN Security Council debates and publications and while it may not be accepted by all nations, the time is already upon us to up-end our 19th and 20th century models of security thinking.

We have to acknowledge climate change, global health, inequality/poverty reduction and conflict prevention as top priority, inter-related hard defence issues. We must call time on the ‘Cinderella’ status of these extreme threats to our collective human safety.

The IPCC’s ‘Code Red for Humanity’ speaks to this. The time has come to transform defence for sustainable human safety in the 21st century. The UN, in all its diversity, through all its departments, is at the heart of this much needed transformation

Spring News And Summer Plans

Spring News And Summer Plans

Climate change and pandemic are changing everything, including our activity priorities

Dear friends, supporters and colleagues,

We hope the sunshine finds you well and that you are perhaps able to do a few less zooms and little more socially distanced face-to-face 😀

Hope there’s something of interest for you in our round-up of activity over the past few months – as well as plans for the coming months. Continue reading

Open Letter to UK hosted G7 meeting. Military emissions, climate change and net zero

Open Letter to UK hosted G7 meeting. Military emissions, climate change and net zero

Ahead of the G7 meeting in Cornwall, TPNS/Transform Defence published an Open Letter to PM Boris Johnson. The 26 (international) supporting signatories are seniors figures from science/academia, development and environment NGOs, activism and the arts.

The open letter called for G7 militaries to come clean on their carbon emissions and absence of any meaningful path to get to net zero, ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow. The letter provided four concrete recommendations. Open letter & signatories below

Transform Defence was also covered in a recent article for German public media broadcaster and publisher Deutsche Welle: Scorched Earth: The Climate Impact of Conflict by Stuart Braun.

Open Letter

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

United Kingdom Presidency of the G7 Summit, 2021

Dear Prime Minister,

The global military: clock is ticking on fulfilling its responsibility in reaching net-zero

The world must cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% by 2030 if we are to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5˚C – we have less than nine years.[1] While all aspects of human activity are required to urgently decarbonise, one sector remains out of view: the global military.

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 report, but this is a bare-minimum disclosure as the IPCC template and codes have only a handful of items mentioning domestic military-related activities.

This means the public and policy makers are unable to obtain an accurate picture of the global military’s overall contribution to climate heating ― from its massive fossil fuel consumption both domestically and overseas to its military exercises and expeditions; from the impacts of conflict and war to GHG emissions arising from post-conflict reconstruction or nation re-building.[2]

As a result, the global military, a significant contributor to climate change over decades, continues to carry out its business as usual. Its emissions are estimated to be several percent of total global carbon emissions and are comparable with the carbon emissions of civilian aviation.[3] Military organizations’ efforts to use renewable energy for installations and achieve greater efficiencies in operations are a start, but as yet insufficient and do not address the root cause — namely, modern militaries are completely dependent on fossil fuels and are among the biggest institutional consumers of oil in the world, with no sign of realistic or practical net-zero plans to offset their carbon emissions.

Dr Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency[4] have said: “Decarbonising entire economies means tackling sectors where emissions are especially difficult to reduce, such as shipping, trucks, aviation, heavy industries like steel, cement and chemicals, and agriculture.”

The global military must be added to this list.

As part of climate change-related discussions in Cornwall and, critically, in advance of the UK hosting the COP26 UN Climate Conference in November, the time has come for the world’s leading military spending nations to acknowledge the deliberate omission of full compulsory military emissions reporting, the consequential knowledge gap, and the imperative for the world’s militaries to transform themselves and help the world reach net-zero.

The G7 countries (UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the USA) are all in the top 20 military spending nations.

To fully comply with the urgent need to reach net-zero, we call upon the G7 nations to support:

    1. AN IPCC TASK FORCE FOR DECARBONISATION OF MILITARIES AND MILITARY TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES. This task force should investigate the climate impact of the military/military technology sectors and devise proposals to address existing (and prevent further) damage. The task force should explore options and recommend solutions to fully decarbonise the world’s militaries and military technology industries without resorting to solutions that have other adverse environmental and social impacts (eg nuclear power and biofuels). Among these solutions should be proposals to transform military assets into climate-resilience hubs in vulnerable communities and countries, explore demilitarisation options, and enhance sustainable human security as defined by the United Nations.
    2. AN IPCC SPECIAL REPORT on the role of the global militaries and military technology industries in contributing to climate change, assessing existing and future social and environmental impacts and exploring response options.
    3. COMPULSORY SUBMISSIONS TO THE IPCC/UNFCCC OF FULL GHG MILITARY EMISSIONS REPORTING BY ALL NATIONS. Nations’ militaries, military industries, and attendant conflicts and wars must be included in their GHG emission reporting and carbon-reduction targets. This reporting must also include emissions incurred overseas, especially for nations with overseas bases. The Task Force on National GHG Inventories must look into how to incorporate these into the next Refinement to the IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories.
    4. NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS (NDCs): ALL COUNTRIES TO INCLUDE THEIR MILITARIES AND MILITARY TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRIES IN THEIR GHG EMISSION REDUCTION PLANS AND TARGETS, taking into account total carbon bootprints of their militaries and military technology industries. Governments and militaries to publish their plans to decarbonise to meet the net-zero goal: simple technical measures (e.g. solar panels on military bases or electric killer drones) are not adequate and cannot be substitutes for serious demilitarisation options.

Critical relationship to the SDGs

Calculating and addressing the carbon burden of conflict and war means acknowledging the impact of military activity on conflict-driven poverty and displacement. It also means addressing the untold billions of dollars in military spending that is spent unnecessarily — as a consequence of waste, fraud and abuse — on many nations’ military spending and which should now be part of all discussions concerning funding sources to plug the significant SDGs funding gap.

The eyes of the world are on the UK for this hugely important G7 meeting. The climate change related concerns of civil society must not be side-lined. In a climate-changed world that urgently needs to get to net-zero, this is yet one more challenging social and environmental justice issue for the G7 of 2021 which can no longer be swept under the carpet.

Yours sincerely,

Deborah Burton, Kevin McCullough

Co-Founders Tipping Point North South/Transform Defence Project

Supporting Signatories

Christine Allen Executive Director, CAFOD (UK/Int’l)
Amir Amirani Documentary Filmmaker (UK)
Nick Buxton Future Labs Co-ordinator, The Transnational Institute (Netherlands/Int’l)
Linsey Cottrell Environmental Policy Officer, The Conflict and Environment Observatory (UK/Europe)
Dr Neta C. Crawford Professor and Chair of the Department Political Science, Boston University and Co‑Director of the Costs of War Project. (USA)
Nick Dearden Director, Global Justice Now (UK)
Fiona Dove Executive Director, The Transnational Institute (Netherlands/Int’l)
Martin Drewry CEO Health Poverty Action (UK/Int’l)
Brian Eno Musician (UK)
Andrew Feinstein Author, former ANC MP, Executive Director Shadow World Investigations (UK/Int’l)
Pat Gaffney Vice President Pax Christi (UK)
Jeff Halper Author, Founder Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (Israel)
Dr Jason Hickel Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths University of London; Visiting Senior Fellow, International Inequalities Institute at LSE (UK/Eswatini)
Charles Kenny Author, Economist (USA)
Dr Ho-Chih Lin Lead Researcher, Tipping Point North South / Transform Defence (UK)
Tamara Lorincz Author, PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Canada)
Caroline Lucas Green Party MP (UK)
Priya Lukka Visiting Fellow Goldsmiths University of London, International Development Economist (UK)
Linda Melvern Author, Journalist (UK)
Pablo Navarrete Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker (UK/Chile)
Dr Benjamin Neimark Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University (UK)
Dr Stuart Parkinson Executive Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility (UK)
Dr. Samuel Perlo‑Freeman Research Coordinator, Campaign Against Arms Trade (UK)
Prof Paul Rogers
John Sauven Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Andrew Simms Co-director New Weather Institute, Co-ordinator Rapid Transition Alliance (UK)
Fionna Smyth Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, Christian Aid (UK/Int’l)



[2] Ho-Chih Lin and Deborah Burton, ‘Indefensible: The true cost of the global military to our climate and human security,’ Transform Defence, 2020,; Neta C. Crawford, “Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War,” Costs of War Project, 2019,; Oliver Belcher, Patrick Bigger, Ben Neimark, and Cara Kennelly, “Hidden Carbon Costs of the ‘everywhere war’: Logistics, Geopolitical Ecology, and the Carbon Boot-print of the US Military,” 2019,; Various reports by Stuart Parkinson and colleagues, Scientists for Global Responsibility,

[3] Ho-Chih Lin and Deborah Burton, ‘Indefensible: The true cost of the global military to our climate and human security,’ Transform Defence, 2020,; Various reports by Stuart Parkinson and colleagues, Scientists for Global Responsibility,


Research Partnership with TNI State of Power 2021: Coercive World

Research Partnership with TNI State of Power 2021: Coercive World

Each year, TNI produces a STATE OF POWER resource on a highly topical issue.

TNI, founded in 1974, is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable planet.

State of Power 2021

The research for COERCIVE WORLD infographics was undertaken by TPNS/Transform Defence and covers military, police, homeland security and prisons around the world. In light of attacks on Gaza, an additional tab was added addressing Israel’s military and defence industry.

Delivering sustainable cuts to global military spending

Delivering sustainable cuts to global military spending

The Five Percent Campaign’s website is now here. Please visit the dedicated website for latest updates.

The 5% Campaign

Divert. Transform. Sustain

A campaign for civil society north and south

  • An international campaign to deliver deep sustainable cuts to excessive global military spending in order to redirect savings to global wants and needs.
  • Via a feasible two-stage ‘5%’ formula applicable by civil society across the globe
  • Delivering a new ‘structural’ campaign to expose the winners & losers in the global military spending relationship: governments & defence industries; citizens & environment.

The primary task of the Five Percent campaign proposal is to get runaway military spending taken up as a ‘structural campaign issue’ by UK international development NGOs, working alongside partners in the global south and North America. We argue that excessive military spending is a global development issue and that current (and increasing) levels of military spending – especially on the global scale-  has been ignored for far too long.

The Five Percent proposal offers a ‘road-map’ for civil society around the world to demand cuts to excessive military spending and to take up the international solidarity campaign call – ‘Don’t Buy Don’t Sell’.  We are fast approaching $2trillion p/a on global military spending. This is without the ‘costs’ of actual war (ie veterans, environmental and infrastructure costs etc). It is doubly scandalous at times of austerity that nations are increasing military budgets while public services are being cut.

Our proposal argues that we need to place excessive global military spending alongside other established international development  ‘structural’ campaigns in order to divert taxpayers money to better use, whether that be international ‘development’ focused or in support of the global green economy, and, as a result of a more intense spotlight on it, become more widely integrated into civil society dialogue and activism.

By joining the ranks of debt cancellation and tax justice, military spending savings could be regarded as yet one more significant ‘new’ revenue stream, redirecting the funds captured to serving the needs of the global community. Inevitably, increased debate around what we mean by ‘defence’ and, central to this, the question of whose interests are really served by the ever increasing global military expenditure, would be at the heart of this effort.

Ultimately, this brings us back to the fundamental need to see military spending as every bit as central to understanding  power, poverty,  economic collapse, unjust distribution of resources as other structural campaigns like debttradetax, climate change and most recently the so-called ‘war on drugs’.  It is not an adjunct to any of these issues – it is implicated in each and every one of them.

As leading activist and author of Shadow World Andrew Feinstein has said, ‘neoliberalism needs the war machine’. And as we see ever greater movement of peoples due to conflict and climate change, this is doubly true as the movement of peoples creates an opportunity for an even greater military ‘security’ presence.


The 5% Formula is a TWO-PART mechanism to achieve major, year-on-year cuts to global military spending over 10 years and beyond. It is a long-term, sustainable campaign, with a top-line demand that works for civil society groups in every country where there is a perceived value in challenging policies concerning military spending.

The first decade calls on the top 20 spenders (who account for 87% of $1.7 trillion world spending) to cut their military spending by 5% each year for decade.  This would see annual global military spending cut by 40% after the first decade, back to mid 1990s spending levels ie $1 trillion dollars, the lowest in recent history (‘lowest’ still being far too high). This would deliver an estimated $700 billion to be redirected to core urgent human and environmental needs.

After the first 10 years, we call upon all nations to adopt the 5% threshold rule to sustainably restrain the global military spending – no country allows any increase in military spending to outstrip economic growth. Most economies grow less than 3% annually; this effectively translates as 2% annual reduction to their military spending.

For example:

 0% economic growth = 5% cut to annual military spend

2% growth = 3% cut to annual military spend

5% growth = no increase

7% growth = only 2% increase on annual military spend.


  • The ‘business’ of the defence industry does not advance or respect notions of ‘sensible defence’ spending when so much profit is to be gained from contracts and/or war. Its close relationship with governments around the world is central to this.
  • Double standards. Approximately 70% of arms sales are made by the permanent five nations of the UN Security Council charged with keeping the peace of the world (USA, France, UK, Russia, China) – and the majority of those arms sales go to the global south.
  • This has consequences for development across the global south. It is reflected in the carnage of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other developing nations where profits are made from conflict while societies are destroyed. Selling arms with one hand and delivering aid with the other, is governmental hypocrisy
  • $2 trillion p/a on military while SDGS struggle to be funded is unacceptable. Moreover, increased inequality undermines local, national and international security.Poverty can drive conflict. Over 900 million people in the world are hungry;  40% of people in the world live on less than US$2 per day
  • Climate change. Oil is a driver for conflict in many parts of the world and is linked to increased military spending; climate change induced conflict is a development issue (ie water wars) as is the increasing role of military planning linked to climate refugee flows from global south to north.
  • Nuclear weapons are often misguidedly overlooked by wider civil society yet they comprise a huge element of military spending; are the ultimate un-useable lethal weapon sucking money from domestic needs; and they are also increasingly are part of the developing world agenda.

All these factors conspire to escalate military spending and crucially undermine international development goals. UK int’l development NGOs and partners in the global south can play a leading role in driving a ground-breaking campaign to:

  • expose and reduce the malign power and influence of the defence industry over governments and society, in the global north and global south so as to:
  • reduce military spending and divert savings into a transformative funding stream delivering social justice and meaningful investment in conflict prevention and peacekeeping
  • reduce military spending and divert savings to deliver a sustainable, non-fossil fuel, green economy that addresses the many dimensions of climate (in)justice.


This proposal stands on the shoulders of those in the peace movement who have long campaigned on the war-spending/arms trade issues, but it is an area that the major players in the development sector have not sought to take on in the same way with the same courage. Moreover, as ‘development’ is interlinked with climate change and the military has a major (albeit relatively unknown) role in climate change, this proposal also speaks to everyone concerned with climate change.

As we head towards the $2 trillion p/a global military spend red-line, we should all be deeply concerned, for many reasons.  A far greater civil society effort is needed to place military spending in the spotlight as we enter yet more uncertain times.

We Are Many movie

This campaign proposal is part of our ongoing commitment to this issue. Tipping Point Film Fund has been a lead partner on the feature-length documentary We Are Many directed by Amir Amirani and released in 2015, with a second wave release to mark the Chilcot Report in 2016.  We Are Many explores the untold legacy of the global anti-war movement mobilized at the time of the Iraq invasion; is about the power of people coming together and the consequences of excessive war/military spending on us, the 99%. It  includes interviews with more than 50 leading activists from across the world.

Download this brief introduction (pdf).


Read Full Report: The Five Percent Campaign (pdf also available) and/or the Executive Summary (pdf also available)