rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Canadian Peace Alliance: Time to wage war against carbon emissions

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Copenhagen. Cancun. Durban. Another year, another collective disappointment for people all over the world looking to the UN climate talks to produce the urgently needed international action addressing the emergency of climate change. (For updates as negotiations wrap-up tonight or this weekend, visit the Guardian live blog.)

Luckily, even while the big polluters and obstructionists like the Harper government keep the world fiddling, there are grassroots movements and indigenous communities leading the struggle for climate action and climate justice. In April 2010, they convened in Bolivia and gave the world the Cochabamba People's Agreement. It's worth re-reading today, especially if you are feeling despair about the talks at Durban.

One of the calls to come out of Cochabamba was that the world massively redirect military expenditures to fighting climate change. It's in that spirit that today the Canadian Peace Alliance has called for a "war on carbon emissions." Here's the media release we have put out, which is closely related to our new campaign, "Peace and Prosperity Not War and Austerity," that calls more generally for a redirection of military spending towards urgent societal needs.


Global community must act on its Responsibility to Protect life on Earth

As the UN climate talks in Durban conclude this weekend, Canada's umbrella peace organization is calling for a large-scale redirection of military spending to fighting the climate crisis. The Canadian Peace Alliance says there is an urgent need to reduce military spending and use the funds for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

"Canada should fully withdraw from Afghanistan, not Kyoto," says CPA co-chair Derrick O'Keefe. "The Harper government wants to put the blame for record carbon emissions on Global South countries. However, it is the unequal global system, which includes the West's addiction to war, that is the primary driver of the climate crisis and the real obstacle to a binding international agreement."

Oil Change International has reported that the annual emissions from the war on Iraq alone are more than the combined total emissions of 60 per cent of all countries in the world. A significant portion of this U.S. fossil fuel consumption is supplied by tar sands exports from Canada.

"Climate talks need to address the carbon bootprint of war -- right now there is a loophole for emissions from war large enough to fly an F35 through," says O'Keefe.

The Harper government plans to spend nearly half a trillion dollars on militarism between now and 2028 through the so-called "Canada First Defence Strategy," while obstructing meaningful international and legally-binding action on climate change.

"The so-called 'responsibility to protect' doctrine is being used as justification to invade or attack country after country, but where is the protection from the climate crisis?" asks CPA co-chair Christine Jones. "We need to stop wars in order to stop climate change. Even the Pentagon has acknowledged climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism. However, yet again, Canada is going in exactly wrong direction, supporting war and militarism that fuels the climate crisis."

"We need a just  transition to a carbon-neutral, demilitarized economy, with good, green jobs as its cornerstone," says Gerry LeBlanc, who represents the United Steelworkers on the steering committee of the Canadian Peace Alliance. LeBlanc is in Durban for the climate talks. "Fossil fuel  and  defence industries must be converted to peaceful and environmentally sustainable applications, with adequate retraining for the workers in those industries. The world can't wait until 2015, let alone 2020."

A November 2010 Environics Research poll indicated widespread support in Canada for redirecting military spending, with 71 per cent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreeing with the statement: "The money spent on wars and the military would all be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change."


Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.