Bombs and emissions
The other day, someone posed a fascinating question to me. The question, paraphrased for wider consumption, basically came down to why is the West not trying to put an end to wars if it’s so concerned about emissions?
Indeed, wars are massively polluting enterprises and even peacetime military activity takes a toll on our ever so tortured climate, which is now anthropomorphic, apparently, so we should all lament its condition. But why isn’t anyone doing anything?
Well, someone is. Actually, many are. There is, for example, a whole website specially dedicated to reporting on the military emissions of countries in the belief that transparency is key for tackling said emissions. There is only one problem. Countries don’t report their military emissions.
As the website’s creators explain, countries are obliged to report their total greenhouse gas emissions, under the Paris Agreement. What they are not obliged to report are their military emissions specifically. The U.S. made sure of that when it voted against such an obligation in 2015. For reasons of national security.
Now, this opens up a wonderful opportunity for any activist with half a working brain to ask rhetorically whether a livable planet is not a question of national security as well.
This would put the the current U.S. administration — and its friends in Europe — in the embarrassing position of trying to convince the opponent that “Yeah, but this is different,” which is their go-to explanation every time they get caught in double standard enforcement.
Outside this hypothetical situation, the question posed in that conversation I referred to at the beginning, is not simply valid but very important. If, as politicians say, emissions are top concern for Western governments, why are they not pushing for an end to conflicts instead of pouring fuel on them? I mean, besides the obvious absence of any actual diplomats in office who know what diplomacy means, that is.
The short answer is that lovely as the idea might be that there could be no wars ever again, it is utopian. War is a tragic but indispensable part of human civilisation. So, in the absence of a solution to military emissions, what governments are doing is trying to reduce these emissions. Even if they’re not saying how high these are.
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