07/05/2024 |

[Webinar] European Military Spending and the Climate Emergency: Squaring the Circle

With military spending exponentially growing across the world and with the EU increasingly adopting militarization as a ‘necessary’ deterrent and safeguard against war, ENAAT invited four speakers to offer their take on the shifting paradigms showcased by SIPRI’s new data figures and the policy priorities being established and legitimated by EU institutions.

As the parliamentary elections are fast approaching and with the looming threat of climate change, this begs the question of what this increased militarization narrative means for how Europe plans to address and counter emerging threats to our security, and what channels and mechanisms we as citizens and civil society organizations can resort to in order to advocate for better peace-keeping measures and shift away from military-based solutions.

This event was organised by ENAAT (European Network Against Arms Trade) in cooperation with the Transnational Institute, the International Peace Bureau and StopWapenhandel, and is part of the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS)

Amongst the panelists were:

  • Wendela de Vries, Coordinator and researcher at StopWapenhandel (moderator)
  • Jordi Calvo, Office Coordinator at the International Peace Bureau (Barcelona), and the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS)
  • Nick Buxton, Knowledge Hub Coordinator at the Transnational Institute on Climate and Security Issues (TNI)
  • Daniel Ribeiro, co-founder and researcher at Justicia Ambiental in Mozambique
  • Laetitia Sédou, Project Officer at the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT)

Each speaker presented different aspects through which EU institutions in the last few years have not only legitimized the increase of military spending through a biased reading of the Ukraine invasion and perceived security threats to Europe, but have been quietly putting the arms industry at the center of several EU-funded programmes unrelated to the military. This has enabled critical resources to be diverted away from climate change prevention measures as well as peace-keeping and conflict de-escalation initiatives, all in the interest of arms production. 

With the specific example of Mozambique, the discussion showed how a lack of transparency and democratic representation at the level of international bodies deciding on EU budgets are continuing to fuel unnecessary military expenditures as well as making EU institutions complicit in fossil fuel industries and authoritarian governments’ militarized response to socio-economic unrest and subsequent migration. 

The discussion opened up new lines of questioning that are more relevant than ever: With the EU elections fast approaching, how do we strategize to get climate change on the radar and counter this increasingly pro-military narrative ? What sector synergies are useful to bring together to best address these concerns? How do nation-states reclaim their power to operate locally and better represent their interests ?