The wealthiest countries spend twice as much on border security as climate change

The countries responsible for the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions are also falling behind on their global climate change contributions because of defense spending, according to a new report from the Transnational Institute, an international research and advocacy institute "committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world." From the executive summary:

Seven countries in particular – responsible for 48% of the world's historic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – collectively spent at least twice as much on border and immigration enforcement (more than $33.1 billion) as on climate finance ($14.4 billion) between 2013 and 2018.

These countries have built a 'Climate Wall' to keep out the consequences of climate change, in which the bricks come from two distinct but related dynamics: first, a failure to provide the promised climate finance that could help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change; and second, a militarised response to migration that expands border and surveillance infrastructure. This provides booming profits for a border security industry but untold suffering for refugees and migrants who make increasingly dangerous – and frequently deadly – journeys to seek safety in a climate-changed world.

Those seven top emitters, by the way, are the United States, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia. The report also notes that the biggest fossil fuel companies — conveniently! — contract with many of the same firms that lead the defense industry, which these countries are hiring to help them with their borders:

Chevron (ranked the world's number 2) contracts with Cobham, G4S, Indra, Leonardo, Thales; Exxon Mobil (ranking 4) with Airbus, Damen, General Dynamics, L3Harris, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin; BP (6) with Airbus, G4S, Indra, Lockheed Martin, Palantir, Thales; and Royal Dutch Shell (7) with Airbus, Boeing, Damen, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Thales, G4S.

Exxon Mobil, for example, contracted L3Harris (one of the top 14 US border contractors) to provide 'maritime domain awareness' of its drilling in the Niger delta in Nigeria, a region which has suffered tremendous population displacement due to environmental contamination. BP has contracted with Palantir, a company that controversially provides surveillance software to agencies like the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to develop a 'repository of all operated wells historical and real time drilling data'. Border contractor G4S has a relatively long history of protecting oil pipelines, including the Dakota Access pipeline in the US.

Meanwhile — just last week, in fact! — the US intelligence community issued a completely unrelated report warning about the threat that climate change poses to national and global security:

The new National Intelligence Estimate on climate, a first-of-its-kind document by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, builds on other grim warnings from national security officials about how a changing climate could upend societies and topple governments.

''We assess that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to US national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge,'' the document states. It also concludes that while momentum to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases is growing, ''current policies and pledges are insufficient'' to meet the goals that countries laid out in the landmark Paris climate accord.

In other words: our house is crumbling at its foundation, and we're stockpiling guns to protect ourselves, instead of addressing the structural issue that's making us vulnerable. Bad idea!

Global Climate Wall: How the world's wealthiest nations prioritise borders over climate action [TNI]

Wealthy Countries Are Spending More on Border Security Than Climate Aid [Molly Taft / Gizmodo]

White House, intelligence agencies, Pentagon issue reports warning climate change threatens global security [Shane Harris and Michael Birnbaum / The Washington Post]

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