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Richest polluting nations spend 30 times more on military than climate finance

November 15, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Environmental activists gather in front of the International Convention Center on the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on November 14, 2022 [Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency]

The richest polluting nations are spending 30 times as much on the military than they do on climate finance for the world’s most climate-affected peoples, according to a new report by the Transnational Institute.

The research has been published as Egypt hosts COP27 in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, a country “much better known for its military spending than for its climate action,” says the Amsterdam-based think tank.

Between 2017 and 2021 Egypt has been one of the top five arms-importing countries with its main suppliers Russia, France and Italy. EU member states, particularly Germany, support Egypt’s police and border guards.

Since 2014 Egypt has struck fossil fuel deals worth $74 billion with US companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron and has not only failed to develop climate adaptation plans but is actively cracking down on climate activists in the country.

Between 2013 and 2021 the richest countries spent $243.9 billion on climate finance and $16.8 trillion on the military.

The top military spenders are also top greenhouse gas emitters, including the US, the UK, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, countries have approved major increases in military spending and therefore greenhouse gas emissions have gone up, according to the report.

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Share prices of large arms companies have soared, and Germany, as well as other countries, has announced $104 billion in extra spending.

In June 2022 the Norwegian government paused all climate finance for an overview of the potential consequences of the Ukraine war.

The richest countries have exported arms to 40 of the most climate-vulnerable countries including Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen and Myanmar.

Between 2013 and 2021 China has exported to 21 of the world’s climate-vulnerable countries and Russia to 13.

“Faced with the climate crisis and the signs of reaching dangerous planetary tipping points, there is an overriding imperative to prioritise climate action and international cooperation to protect those who will be most affected,” the report says.

“Yet in 2022, an arms race is exacerbating the climate crisis and preventing its resolution.”