Invest in Life not Death. Heart breaking “Pram Rebellion” staged at Farnborough Airshow
Climate Change brings Conflict, a dignified procession takes place as famous Air Show becomes an Arms Fair
A dignified procession takes place as the famous Farnborough Air Show becomes an Arms Fair.
In solemn procession, and in solidarity with Quakers and Greater Rushmoor Action For Peace, Extinction Rebellion drew attention to the rise in global conflict brought by climate breakdown.
Dressed in mourning clothes and pushing empty white prams, Pram Rebellion walks slowly to the sound of sorrowful music, mourning our children’s future and in memoriam of children suffering and dying now in countries most affected by conflict and climate change.
The protest takes place at the opening of the Farnborough Airshow, on a day when the temperature record for Hampshire of 36.1°C may be broken and as climate scientists anticipate Britain experiencing its first 40°C temperatures.
Farnborough Airshow is one of the largest aerospace and defence exhibitions, attracting thousands of exhibitors and visitors from all around the world. This year sees a heavy presence from arms companies including Lockheed Martin, Elbit, Rafael Armed Defence Systems and BAE Systems who are the largest defence contractors in Europe.
Hannah, 32, an actuarial consultant from Farnborough said “Arms manufacturers are meeting in air conditioned halls to sell their destructive technologies, as ordinary people here in the UK are sweltering in a heatwave which experts tell us is a wake up call on climate change. Conflicts over basic resources like food and water are inevitable. We must invest in life, not the machinery of death.”
Steve, 51, a company director from Surrey said "I didn't want to dress in black funeral attire and push a heavy pram to Farnborough Arms and Airshow on the hottest day in UK records, but it's that heat that is the very reason I did. Governments around the world are fully aware that the greatest security rish posed to their countries will come as a result of climate change, and are they're pumping billions of dollars into their armed forces to be ready for the conflicts will arise. I'm not sitting back and watching the lunacy of this military spending and investment in aviation growth instead of tackling the climate disastter. My discomfort in the heat was nothing compared to those who died today, and those who will dies in the days, weeks and years ahead because of our governments' collective inaction."
The world’s armed forces are amongst the largest climate polluters, but avoid scrutiny as countries do not have to include armed forces’ emissions in their climate targets. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the UK military’s total annual carbon footprint is 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide but Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) estimate the true figure to be 11m tonnes.
The MoD admits climate breakdown will increase global conflicts. Climate change is a “threat multiplier” that makes already dangerous social and political situations even worse. Countries such as China and Russia have been growing their armed forces for sometime. In the last two years alone, over 200 conflicts over water have been recorded.
The objectives of many arms companies are not socially well aligned. Prioritising profits means they sell to countries with some of the worst human rights records and even take advantage of their own countries to protect their business.
One Air Show exhibitor typifying this is BAE Systems who have a large presence at the Farnborough Airshow. Its CO2 emissions account for 30% of the UK’s arms industry.
Since the beginning of war in Ukraine, BAE Systems share price has increased by about 33% as investors expect bigger profits. Its employees are fundraising to help Ukranians, some very generously. In contrast, records of BAE Systems donations are not readily available.
BAE Systems enjoys windfall profits. However in the past when equipment it has designed fails to meet the necessary standard, it is the UK government, taxpayers, who pick up the bill. Despite being the design authority for the Type 45 destroyer, when it became apparent that the ships were unable to operate in high temperatures, the UK government had to pay an additional £160 million to make them useable.
BAE Systems' reputation is starting to affect its social licence to operate, resulting in courts acquitting people planning to sabotage their aircraft. In 2017 two protesters were arrested after breaking into BAE Systems’ Warton base. They planned to damage Typhoon jets due to be exported to Saudi Arabia, where they believed they would be used in the war in Yemen. They were both acquitted.
Even the UK government is trying to reduce its dependency on BAE Systems with the contract for the Type 31 destroyer. One defence analyst has been quoted as saying - "Were they to have bid as BAE Systems, they wouldn't win. That is absolutely obvious. The fact is that the Type 31 is slanted, probably to exclude any bid that includes BAE.”
Let's not forget where the priorities of all arms manufacturers lie, they profit from the suffering that war brings. Extinction Rebellion demands they invest in life, not death.
The world’s militaries are avoiding scrutiny over emissions, scientists say.
Countries do not have to include armed forces’ emissions in their targets despite estimates that the sector creates 6% of greenhouse gases.
The Ministry of Defence says the UK military’s total annual carbon footprint is 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), but other sources estimate the true figure to be 11m tonnes. That is roughly the amount 6m average cars would emit annually.
BAE Systems takes the profits, but when the UKs Type 45 destroyed were found not to meet the design specification and needed its power plants upgraded; the UK government had to foot the bill, even though BAE Systems was the design authority for Type 45 destroyers.
In 2017 two protesters were arrested having gained access to BAE Systems’ Warton base. They were about to damage Typhoon jets due to be exported to Saudi Arabia, where they believed they would be used in the war in Yemen.
They were acquitted. One of the protesters said - “Our acquittal was a vindication of the position we took, and a condemnation of the hypocrisy that lies at the heart of UK foreign policy.”
The UK government is trying to reduce its reliance on BAE Systems
The United Nations have ratified a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which came into force on 22nd Jan 2021. The UK has not ratified this treaty as the rest of the world calls for the end of nuclear weapons. Of the 51 countries that have ratified the treaty 48 are in the global south. This includes Thailand, Vietnam, Malawi and Ghana, countries that are most affected by climate & ecological breakdown. International Campaign Against Nuclear Weaponshttps://www.icanw.org/the_treaty
About Extinction Rebellion
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken. Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s demands are:
Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
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