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  • Writer's pictureGR Climate Coalition

Statement on War

Updated: Feb 11

From the Coalition's Executive Committee:

The Grand Rapids Climate Coalition envisions a just transition to renewable energy here at home and around the world, leading to social justice and human wellbeing. 

Because everything is interconnected, recent and ongoing global violence highlights the need for organizations like ours to not shy away from speaking out about these connections and to oppose all forms of violence, war, genocide, colonization, and dehumanization—including Islamophobia and antisemitism around the world, in the US, and in Grand Rapids. 

We join organizers around the world and close to home in urging all parties to seek peaceful solutions—and specifically, for permanent ceasefires in Israel-Palestine, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We share the sorrow and outrage of everyone mourning the suffering of innocent civilians and assert all peoples’ right to live in freedom, dignity, and peace. We condemn war in all its forms. We specifically decry the United States of America’s financing of global war efforts with our tax dollars because military spending perpetuates violence and accelerates climate breakdown. 

War makes climate chaos worse. It does lasting harm to land, water, air, and animals, and, of course, to people—especially to those with the least structural power (just like the climate crisis). Researchers, journalists, and activists now rightly identify war’s climate harm alongside its humanitarian, cultural, economic, and other environmental impacts: the world’s total military carbon footprint is estimated at 5.5% of global emissions—mostly through burning fossil fuels derived through extractive practices. 

The US military is the single largest climate polluter on the planet. (More below.)

We urge our nation’s leaders and elected officials to redirect funding and efforts toward analyzing and drastically reducing the U.S. military’s emissions, and to resist and abstain from war. And we encourage our members to work together with wider movements for justice, peace, human rights, and accountability. 

This statement was approved by the GR Climate Coalition’s Executive Committee. We encourage our member organizations to consider, use, and act upon it as they see fit. (Note: this statement was updated on February 11, 2024 to include further examples below.)


Supporting figures: 

  • Global military spending is $2.2 trillion a year, a 20% increase in the past 10 years (source);

  • NATO, the 31-member alliance to which the USA belongs, accounts for half of this spending, which is on track to greatly increase (source);

  • As two specific examples: 

  • A recent report on the state of Israel’s assault on Gaza and its people notes that “The planet-warming emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza were greater than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations” (emphasis added; source);

  • Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine and its people have generated significant emissions, at latest calculation equivalent to the annual emissions of a country like Belgium (source, from here).

  • “The current wars have been paid for almost entirely with borrowed money, on which interest has to be paid. Through FY2022, the U.S. government owes over $1 trillion in interest on these wars” (source);

  • For further research, see the 2023 U.S. defense budget and costs per taxpayer.

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