Snapshots from the Shadow World November 2021
Spotlighting under-reported items of interest for Undue Influence subscribers
Australia’s arms exports to nations accused of war crimes
New subscribers may have missed our long feature, The Bloody Trade, which examined Australia’s arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and was published in Arena Magazine in September.
We were delighted that this month Progressive International published an excerpt and that it was translated into several languages.
In September, we also published a piece on Australia’s exports to Israel.
In addition to our reports on Australia’s arms exports:
In October, SBS Dateline released an investigative report revealing Australia’s arms exports to 18 countries in Africa – including Burkina Faso, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. SBS said, “Australian companies are selling munitions and military technology to war-torn African countries under a Defence Department plan that critics have branded ‘grotesque’ and unethical.” (Listen to the story on SBS radio.)
Justice for Myanmar revealed that the Myanmar military is using Australian radios.
All this is evidence of what international arms trade expert Andrew Feinstein warned us of in early 2018, when our prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Australia’s new arms export policy. Feinstein told ABC radio that to move up the world export rankings Australia would have to “get your hands covered in blood” by exporting to authoritarian regimes and the world’s violent hotspots.
COP 26: Military’s huge contribution to climate change
While there was much media coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), very little was heard of the huge contribution to climate change made by the world’s military forces. (We touched on this issue in our last Snapshots.)
Yet NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg told COP26 that the world’s armies must keep pace with global efforts to tackle climate change and cut their huge carbon footprints. “There is no way to reach net zero without also including emissions from the military,” Stoltenberg said.
You can read more about the scale of the problem here. Key points:
a lack of transparency makes it hard to calculate the true scale of military emissions but it’s clear they are significant.
it is critical that the military be included in commitments by nation states to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
emissions from the military are predominantly indirect, released via military equipment procurement and other supply chains that account for the majority of military emissions.
contemporary warfare is dominated by aviation, which emits vast quantities of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) during production and operation. Military jets typically fly at higher altitudes than commercial airlines. This can also cause additional atmospheric heating effects due to the contrails. Contrail cirrus are significant contributors to the climate warming impacts of aircraft emissions.
fuel consumption data alone is not reliable for assessing the full climate impact of military aviation.
in 2021, the number of military aircraft globally is 53,563, more than double the civilian fleet of 23,715. Overall, aviation represents about 3.5% of climate warming, with the role of military aviation contributing an estimated 8–15% of this.
the use of more polluting ‘bunker’ fuel means the marine sector is responsible for 2.5% of global GHG emissions, and rising. Naval spending is also increasing but the paucity of data makes it difficult to estimate global GHG emissions from the naval fleet.
military training exercises generate significant GHG emissions, including from land degradation – particularly when undertaken in fragile environments. The Talisman Sabre exercises held in Australia attract criticism on these grounds.
7 Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade
A new seven part video series has been created by university campaigners in the UK, based on the book by Paul Holden, Andrew Feinstein, and others.
Watch the first video in the series here. Stay in the loop via their socials (links provided under the video) for the following six myths.
The 7 myths are perpetuated in Australia so the series is worth a look:
Higher defence spending equals higher security (linked above)
Military spending is driven by security concerns
Corruption in the arms trade is only a problem in developing countries
We can control where weapons end up and how they are used
The defence industry is a key contributor to national economies
National security requires blanket secrecy
The arms trade can’t be beaten, now is not the time
Our small team at Undue Influence has been busy researching and writing another major piece. The first draft is complete and the editing process has commenced. It is scheduled for release early in the new year. We will keep you posted on that, and our other upcoming work.