An open letter from climate justice and peace groups

The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern 

The Minister for Finance, Grant Robertson

The Minister for Defence, Peeni Henare 

The Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw

We are writing to express our deep dismay with, and opposition to, the use of the climate crisis to push for increased military spending. The money earmarked for increased military spending should be moved to projects to reduce emissions, creating a low energy and fair society, as well as increasing aid and support to our Pacific neighbours who are facing the reality of the climate crisis.

In the Budget 2021 over $5 billion was budgeted for the Armed Forces on top of the $20 billion already earmarked for capital investment in things from Poseidon warplanes capable of bombing submarines to new patrol boats. This is in stark contrast with attempts to tackle climate change. The fund for decarbonising the public service, for example, was $219 million. 

At the moment the Armed Forces are arguing in their latest “Defence Assessment Report.” that increasing threats demand more capabilities, which of course, will require funding. They even use climate change to justify this by saying that it is one of many threats to New Zealand’s “interests in the region.”    

Ironically, by increasing spending on the military we are also increasing emissions. The United States Armed Forces, the biggest in the world, emits more greenhouse gases than a hundred countries combined. 

We agree that climate change will affect those with fewer resources first. Our Pacific neighbours are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and have done little to cause the problem. We should absolutely do everything possible to support them. We will need to provide aid and possibly even help with mutually agreed upon resettlement programmes. War planes designed to bomb submarines will not help. The Armed Forces have played a key role in responding to natural disasters. The response to the crisis in Tonga is a great example. But this was done by our current aircraft and boats, not the expensive new combat craft and upgrades. 

Our Pacific neighbours will also need meaningful action on the climate crisis now, as so many Pacific communities have been calling for. We do need a proactive strategy in the Pacific. But we need a proactive strategy to ban oil, gas and coal, and a planned transition to a flourishing, fair and low energy society. We also need to be a voice for peace in the Pacific, helping to coordinate aid for our neighbours on the front lines of the climate crisis and pushing against the idea of armed conflict in the region. That is how we will weather these “rough seas.” 

As community groups struggling for action on climate justice and peace we say no to militarisation in response to the climate crisis. Take the money earmarked for the military and spend it on creating a fair and low energy Aotearoa New Zealand by tackling climate change.

He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka.

Heoi anō, me eke tātou i te waka mō te oranga o ngā tangata katoa.

Ā mātou mihi nui,

350 Aotearoa,

Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ, 

Oxfam Aotearoa,

Peace Movement Aotearoa, 

Climate Crisis Now Aotearoa,

Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign on Military Spending, 

Coal Action Network Aotearoa,

Peace Action Wellington, 

Climate Justice Taranaki, 

Extinction Rebellion Ōtepoti, 

the Extinction Rebellion Open Letter Working Group,  

Fridays for Future Te Whanganui a Tara,

Transition Town Heart and Soul Group (Lower Hutt),

Auckland Peace Action

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