With COP21 opening in Paris in December 2015, UK WILPF held a national seminar on Climate Change, Environment and Militarism on 14 November. It was hosted, at the invitation of the Section, by the Orpington Branch.

The day was introduced by an excellent DVD produced by the UK Movement for the Abolition of War: Conflict and Climate Change. 

Margrethe Tingstad International WILPF Vice President from Norway, focussed upon how military activity is itself a major contributor to climate change and environmental degradation.

For an idea of scale: the amount spent on armaments each year would fund the entire UN projects budget for 615 years. These weapons all need to be tested – regularly: the environmental damage caused by military exercises and weapons testing during peacetime exceeds that of wars themselves. On impact, a conventional artillery shell generates temperatures around 3,000°C. Not only does this obliterate all surface life, but it can take the subsoil up to 1,500 years to recover.

April Humble from the Earth League of Climate scientists spoke on Climate Change and Global Instability. She outlined how global warming was among the causes of the conflict in Syria. Five successive years of drought (75% livestock death, 50% crop failure) were significant in creating the tensions sparked by that country’s ‘Arab Spring’. She defined the exodus of 4 million people from Syria as the “biggest climate-induced migration the world has so far seen.”

Jenny Marklew from the UK Green Party Women concentrated upon engaging with the public to campaign.

Janet Fenton (UK WILPF) facilitated the day guiding the committed audience in a high level of discussion in the afternoon workshops. The participants showed real appreciation for the day and we were able to supply them with power point slides from the two main speakers after the event.