False Solutions:

False Solution 1:

Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier

Climate change is widely framed as a ‘threat multiplier’ exacerbating existing threats and tensions, triggering conflict, and creating an unpredictable and unstable world. Some of the existing ‘threats’ it is seen as exacerbating include poverty, migration, political unrest, environmental degradation, resource ‘scarcity’, terrorism, and other social tensions. The climate-scarcity-conflict-security paradigm which sees climate change as causing scarcity which leads to conflict has been widely questioned as it focuses on the illusion of scarcity rather than maldistribution. Using Nick Buxton’s words: “helps fuel arms races, distracts from other causal factors leading to conflict, and undermines other [collaborative] approaches to conflict resolution.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, too, has contested the paradigm as lacking sufficient evidence. Still this approach and rhetoric is extremely prominent in climate security discourse and practice. The scarcity language also affects water, food and energy arenas where narratives of shortages lead to market-based false solutions, such as ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’. Extractive economies, under the guise of ‘sustainability,’ through the increasing financialization and privatization of natural resources, especially in Global South countries, are facilitated by the military, local security agencies, policing and surveillance through private-public partnerships between governments and corporations.

To learn more, you can watch this webinar: Extractive Industries, Violence, and Corporate Criminality: Is There a Pathway to Global Justice?

False Solution 2:

Greening the Military

In response to rising public awareness and protest about miltaries’ role as some of the largest global polluters, there has been a demand for and move of militaries towards ‘greening’ their strategy, operations and facilities internally to counter their image as polluters and perpetrators of ecocide. Many militaries are attempting to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, setting reduction targets and some even net zero emissions goals. Solar panels are being installed at many military bases around the world. Alternative fuels are being substituted for fossil fuels in military technology, equipment and shipping, even though many of these technologies themselves are developed to be more and more “effectively” deadly and destructive to ‘enemy’ environments and humans. Such greening schemes are raising military budgets, globally. The arms industry is securing more contracts to develop this green technology that is not reliant on fossil fuels, is energy efficient, and is resilient to climate change impacts, such as solar-powered submarines and drones. This ‘greening defense’ strategy is ‘greenwashing’ since militaries are still based in an apparatus of violence that seeks to dominate humans and ecosystems, responsible for the environmental destruction and perpetuation of the capitalist colonial imperialist system that have led to the current state of climate change and global crises convergence. Nick Buxton asserts that the actual motivation for this transition to renewables is to reduce military dependence on fossil fuels which has made militaries’ vulnerable and presented difficulties in transporting fossil fuels for military operation. This ‘greening’ is then a strategy of making the military “more effective” and “better fighters” as made explicit by Former US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus: “We are moving toward alternative fuels in the Navy and Marine Corps for one main reason, and that is to make us better fighters.”

False Solution 3:

Militarized Humanitarian Aid & Disaster Relief

Militaries are being positioned and accepted by some as the most capable actors able to respond to climate change-related disasters. This is reasoned through militaries’ supposed multifaceted nature, self-sufficiency compared to other government agencies, immense resource supply, and widespread control as the largest landowners in most countries. Militaries’ long-time involvement in ‘soft power’ intervention and ‘rescue’ efforts is channeled towards military deployment for humanitarian aid, disaster relief, evacuation, and reconstruction in response to climate change-related disasters and conflict in collaboration with some civil actors. Contrary to the praise this scheme has received, such a violent institution and its violently trained armed forces should not be the ‘first-responder’ interacting with those on the frontlines of the climate crisis, when these same militaries are both the cause of these climate disasters and other violences marginalizing them. The only reason militaries have the resources and planning capacity to be seen as capable of this responsibility is due their unparalleled budgets, which can be diverted to community-led climate resilience and adaptation instead. Lastly, these disaster relief efforts are not simply well-meaning, especially internationally, where they are imperial strategies to increase the intervening state’s power and control in the regions they are claiming to help. 

False Solution 4:

Military-led Research & Planning

Militaries are often some of the few governmental actors that are constantly engaged in long-term ‘comprehensive’ planning, including in the context of climate change and other global crises predictions where they have developed worst-case scenarios and planned responses to them. This planning is intended to prolong military existence and operations even as threats and contexts change. Militaries have been among the first institutions to release climate reports and predictions, which are being widely used as expert sources even by civic actors. Given this supposed ‘planning expertise,’ militaries are being integrated into climate planning across other government agencies and international institutions. This is dangerous because such an integration spreads a climate security approach and militarized responses to climate change across government agencies that may otherwise pursue non-securitized responses to climate change.

False Solution 5:

Border Securitization & Migration Management

The climate security approach has also a significant impact on borders and migration, as its narrative emphasizes the ‘threat’ of climate-induced mass migration, which justifies colonial racialized and gendered responses. Focusing on military responses to migration has led to a concerning increase in funding the border industrial complex. Indeed, the border industrial complex is expected to grow globally by 7% annually. As the TNI report Global Climate Wall shows, the seven biggest GHG emitters the United States, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Australia spent collectively at least twice on border and immigration control than on climate finance between 2013 and 2018. US border and migration has had its budget increased from €5.2 million in 2005 to €460 million in 2020. As of 2018, there are 63 physical walls worldwide. The budget for the EU border agency Frontex has increased from 5.2 million Euros in 2005 to 5.6 billion Euros allocated to the agency for the years 2021 to 2027. According to the report Cashing in on Crisis, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued more than 105,000 contracts worth more than US $55 billion to private companies between 2008 and 2020.

The world’s largest investors - BlackRock, Vanguard, and StateStreet - fuel and profit from climate change and border militarization by investing in fossil fuel, agribusiness, and border agencies causing human rights abuses and environmental destruction.

War and conflict are actually the primary cause of mass migrations, rather than the climate crisis.The most recent 2022 IPCC report not only recognized the role of colonialism as the root cause of the climate crisis, but that governance and socio-economic factors are responsible for conflict and migration rather than climate change. The case of the Syrian civil war, for instance, shows that it was not the climate change-induced drought that caused mass migration and civil unrest - a deeply problematic Western narrative - but rather Assad’s neoliberal policies that led to the agrarian crisis.

Organizations and Campaigns for Migration Justice and No Borders:
  • The World Social Forum on Migrations (WFSM): It is one of the thematic processes of the World Social Forum. The WSFM, like WSF, is a space for democratic debate of ideas, reflection, formulation of proposals, exchange of experiences; for articulation of social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neoliberal globalization
  • Abolish Frontex: #AbolishFrontex is a decentralized and autonomous network of groups, organizations and individuals. #AbolishFrontex is working towards ending the EU border regime; dismantling the border-industrial complex, and building a society where people are free to move and live.
  • Transnational Migrant Platform: TMP-E responds to the various international, European and national developments that are impacting heavily the daily lives of migrant and refugee communities in Europe.
  • Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) in response to the state-led process and closed-door deliberations of the GFMD; the Global Coalition of Migration (GCM), born out of the PGA as the first global initiative promoting migrants rights which is a formal alliance of global unions, academic networks, regional and national networks from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin and North America.

Additional Resources on Militarization:

Books, Articles, and Reports: