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The Pentagon — the climate elephant


By Sara Flounders, Source

There is an elephant in the climate debate that by U.S. demand cannot be discussed or even acknowledged. This agreement to ignore the elephant is now the accepted basis of all international negotiations on climate change.

It is well understood by every possible measurement that the Pentagon, the U.S. military machine, is the world’s biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products and the world’s worst polluter of greenhouse gas emissions and many other toxic pollutants. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.

Ever since the Kyoto Accords or Kyoto Protocol negotiations in 1998, in an effort to gain U.S. compliance, all U.S. military operations worldwide and within the U.S. have been exempt from measurement and from agreements on reduction. The U.S. Congress passed an explicit provision guaranteeing U.S. military exemptions. (Interpress Service, May 20, 1998)

The complete U.S. military exemption from greenhouse gas emissions calculations includes more than 1,000 U.S. bases in more than 130 countries around the world, its 6,000 facilities in the U.S., its aircraft carriers and its jet aircraft. Also excluded are its weapons testing and all multilateral operations such as the giant U.S.-commanded NATO military alliance and Africom, the U.S. military alliance now blanketing Africa. The provision also exempts U.S./U.N.-sanctioned activities of “peacekeeping” and “humanitarian ­relief.”

After gaining this giant concession, the U.S. government still refused to sign the Kyoto Accord, thus sabotaging years of international effort to forge an ­agreement.

The provisions of the Kyoto Protocol nevertheless became the basis of all future proposed international meetings on a climate treaty, including Copenhagen 2009, Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012 and the United Nations upcoming 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change meeting in Paris in 2015.

In all past international conferences it was again and again the U.S. government that sabotaged the meetings and refused to be bound by any treaty. The Obama administration on Aug. 27 again confirmed that at the U.N. meeting in New York in September to prepare for the 2015 Paris meeting, only a nonbinding agreement could be put forward.

Role of grassroots activists

Unless the climate activists at the grassroots level challenge this exemption of the U.S. military and begin to focus a laser light on the most dangerous source of global warming and climate change, the movement will become lost in vague generalities, utopian hopes and toothless accords.

The only hope that the mass outpouring in September in New York City will have an impact is if independent voices can begin to consciously challenge the greatest global polluter.

Exposing the horrendous social costs of U.S. militarism must also be part of the challenge. Washington’s military role acts to constantly reinforce at every level the repressive state apparatus.

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