UK Military Budget Briefing: Follow up
This webinar was arranged by the UK Steering Group for the Global Campaign on Military Spending. It took place Monday 22 February, 2021. The UK GCOMS network is made up of 36 organisations from political, scientific, faith and humanitarian concerns that wish to raise awareness about the significant sums spent in military development.
Also download here a briefing note compiled by GDAMS coalition member Scientists for Global Responsibility, which brings together many of the themes and numbers discussed.
Introduction: In November 2020, the Westminster government announced major increases in military spending, while at the same time slashing the overseas aid budget. This double-decision has been heavily criticised by many.
- Dr Kate Hudson, General Secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – CND
- Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility
- Deborah Burton, co-founder of Tipping Point North South
Moderator: John Cooper, Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation
Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman -CAAT- was finally absent.
John Cooper as the moderator started by introducing each guest of this webinar.
Kate Hudson as General Secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament opened the discussion by recalling the important British decision and detailing the future investments in question. In Autumn 2020, when pandemic and vaccine where the most important subject to discuss on the high level of politics, UK prime minister made an announcement about defence spending. He decided to allocate another £16.5bn for the next four years (creation of cyber force, space command, a new agency dedicated to artificial intelligence…). Dr Hudson continued her analysis on the MOD’s budget (Ministry of Defence) and on the Trident program (UK nuclear program), and about the source of financing. She concluded by saying that “even if it was free, we wouldn’t want it”.
Dr Stuart Parkinson, as a climate change expert, brought the discussion on military spending and climate change in the UK. When Prime Minister Johnson announced his £16.5bn increase in military expenditures, he also announced a “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution” for £12bn. Dr Parkinson shared interesting inputs concerning science and what UK is spending on research and development in 2018: when it concerns military there is £1.7bn in comparison with the 100 million dedicated to renewable energy. Almost 20 times less.
This raises only one question: what is the most urgent or important matter? Even more when we know that UK military footprint is at least 11 million tonnes of CO2 (comparable with annual use of 6 million cars).
How else can the money by spend? That was a question for Deborah Burton, co-founder of Tipping Point North South. She brought attention to how “conflicts drive 80% of world humanitarian needs”. According to Burton, the way we currently think of defence must be modernized. The Covid-19 costed 10% of UK’s GDP in 2020, and experts agree that another global pandemic is a possible eventuality. So, accoirding to her, the recent increase in UK’s military spending of £16.5bn for the next four years should be redirected to the defence of public health and particularly in pandemic prevention.
Closing the webinar, John Cooper took a couple of questions from participants.