Resisting Green Militarism: Building Movements for Peace and Eco-Social Justice  

The myth that war can be made environmentally sustainable is taking hold around the globe. This has dire consequences for the realisation of just transitions based on non-military forms of solidarity with, and care for, people and the planet. 

Between 2020 and 2023, the US, UK, NATO and the EU have published a wide range of military climate adaptation plans and military-industrial sustainability strategies. The agendas respond to narratives around climate change and environmental degradation as “threat-multipliers”, against which the “objective” interests of the nation-state, military and market must be secured. Along the logic of less fuel, more fight – or, decarbonising defence to reduce emissions but not missions – these military sectors are presenting military action as compatible with climate action. They aim to center the arms industry as a guarantor of democracy and sustainable development. 

This occasional paper maps the ongoing militarisation of ecological crises – captured by the umbrella concept of “green militarism” – and its implications for eco-social justice. The paper calls for policymakers, researchers, organisers and members of the public to critically engage with and resist green war and sustainable arms policies. It defines a set of key questions that these actors should pose, including: 

  • Who or what is secured and made insecure by climate security policy? 
  • What kind of sustainability can militaries and arms industries provide? 
  • How do green war strategies mask the human and ecological costs of militarisation? 
  • What does the promotion of environmentally sustainable war mean for eco-social justice? 
  • How is a joint resistance built against eco-social injustices and green war policies? 

Engaging with these questions, the paper finds that the emergence of green militarism across Europe and North America is particularly harmful to eco-social justice movements that view disarmament, demilitarisation and decriminalisation as integral to tackling global ecological emergencies. Military solutions to ecological crises remain surface-level, responding to symptoms and creating new ones, rather than addressing the underlying sources that drive ecological breakdown and social strife. By contrast, peace, anti-militarist and anti-policing, social and ecological justice movements together address the root causes behind organised violence, social inequity and ecological harm. 

Movements must come together to critically interrogate the notion of green(able) war to counter military actors’ repositioning as “drivers of climate action” and first-responders in a “war on climate change.” Key avenues of critique and action include revealing the ecological costs of war and military practice, exposing their humanitarian consequences, and uplifting the voices of directly impacted communities. It is imperative to demystify the narratives promoting militarisation as a solution to climate change and its impacts. 

Today’s polycrisis demands that we foster cooperation across social causes, methodologies and locales. Ecologies of harm require ecologies of resistance.

Download the full report above. Access the Movement Index and Executive Report in pdf format.

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