Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kyoto and Disarmament

By Ted Craill

Acknowledgement: The following quote was copied from the Kyoto web site: The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change strengthens the international response to climate change. Adopted by consensus at the third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) in December 1997, it contains legally binding emissions targets… (My emphasis).

In this article I present a case for the adoption of Kyoto-style, legally binding targets for staged disarmament and for the cessation of armaments manufacture. If adopted, these measures should significantly reduce green-house gas emissions.

For economy in writing I have adopted the Kyoto representation for all greenhouse gasses as carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents.

Estimation of the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere due to all aspects of war would take into account the manufacture of weapons, their use and the amount released in repairing the damage resulting from their use. Understanding the extent of damage to the environment caused by the manufacture of weapons and war, and acknowledging that war inflicts great suffering, logic inevitably leads to a realisation that this is a nonessential human activity that we should discontinue. To this end, the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provides a sound legal basis to argue for the inclusion of disarmament as a component of environment-protection measures.

The NPT came into force on March 5, 1970 and by the mid 1990s 168 countries had appended their signatures to the Treaty. That there has been negligible progress on the implementation of Treaty provisions in the years following its adoption suggests a lack of will on the part of succeeding governments to honour past commitments.

Article VI of the NPT requires all parties to the treaty to negotiate in good faith for general disarmament. Failure of the World’s leaders to honour agreements to disarm; their failure to recognise the obvious fact that weapons manufacturing and war are adding significant amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere; both failures are evidence of deficiencies in leadership responsibility that must be addressed.

Peace and Environmentalist groups need to launch a campaign to gain wide public support for disarmament to be accepted as a component of environment remediation. A well-informed public will ensure the elevation of leaders with the will to negotiate for staged reductions of armaments and for ending armaments manufacture. Without a grass-roots movement directed to achieving these objectives, Kyoto and the NPT will probably survive as mere statements of intent and as reminders of missed opportunity.

Ending armament manufacturing will, of course, deliver more than relief to a polluted environment. Its realisation would release capital for investment in life-supporting, non-polluting technologies, thereby enhancing prospects for enjoyment of all that a peaceful and healthy Planet Earth has to offer.

Article dissemination commenced January 1, 2008.

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