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Report: Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change

Report published by Don't Bank on the Bomb Scotland.


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Nuclear Weapons, the Climate and Our Env
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Ahead of Hiroshima anniversary, new report highlights connections between nuclear weapons and climate change


On Monday 3 August, Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland will launch a report examining the links between nuclear weapons, environmental destruction and climate change.


Published ahead of the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August, the report details the environmental and health consequences of nuclear weapons production, testing and use and argues that abolishing nuclear weapons and curbing militarism are essential to address the climate emergency.


“This excellent report spells out deadly links between the threats to all life on earth of humanly generated nuclear radiation, the risks of nuclear war, global heating and environmental degradation. The evidence makes clear the urgency of Just Transitions away from the often government-endorsed military and industrial practices that cause these harms. It also shows the importance of a vigorous and united environmental and peace movement that is doing everything we can do to change this.” Lynn Jamieson, Chair of Scottish CND


Using case studies from around the world, the report shows how uranium mining and nuclear weapons testing have caused widespread environmental devastation. Much of this activity has been carried out on Indigenous lands and Indigenous people have been left to deal with the long-term health and environmental consequences.


In the case of some countries, such as the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, communities that were subjected to nuclear weapons testing are now bearing the brunt of climate disruption.


The report points out that over the next five years, the UK is set to spend three times more on its military nuclear weapons programme (£7.4 billion per year) than it will provide to developing nations in the form of climate finance (£2.3 billion per year). The world’s largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, the US, is spending 15 times more on nuclear weapons in 2020 ($37.2 billion) than it has committed to climate finance ($2.5 billion).


“Developed nations are disproportionately responsible for causing the climate emergency but developing countries are experiencing the worst impacts. It’s shameful that rich nations like the UK spend more on weapons of mass destruction than they are giving to poorer nations that are the most vulnerable to rising seas and extreme weather events.” Patrick Harvie, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party and MSP for the Glasgow region


The report outlines the widespread devastation that would result from a nuclear detonation in Glasgow city centre. A nuclear war could wipe out the human race, the report says, as the soot and smoke generated by nuclear explosions would block sunlight from reaching the earth.


The combination of a new nuclear arms race and increasing climate disruption make this scenario more likely, the report warns.


“All nine nuclear-armed nations are currently investing heavily in their nuclear arsenals and key arms control agreements have been terminated”, Linda Pearson, author of the report said. “When climate change impacts the availability of key resources, such as water, there is a risk that inter-state rivalry will turn into conflict involving nuclear weapons. These states should be co-operating on measures to address the current climate emergency, not building weapons that could cause another climate emergency.”


Citing the environmental and humanitarian impact of the arms industry, the report recommends that the Scottish Government support a Just Transition away from military production, as well as from fossil fuels. This transition must tackle the deep-seated inequalities which lead to poor socioeconomic outcomes for ethnic minorities and women, the report says.


“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the futility of military spending in the face of the most serious human security threats”, Dr Guy Johnson of Medact said. “Nuclear bombs can’t defend us from a virus and they can’t stop the climate emergency. There is an urgent need to shift priorities at the national and international level – our economies should serve people and planet, not power and profit.”

For more information call Arthur West of Scottish CND: 07826 127759 or email nukedivestmentscotland@gmail.com.


Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland is a network of organisations that campaigns for Scottish banks, pension funds and public bodies to divest from companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons. Our member organisations are partners of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

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The United Nations House Scotland is part of the United Nations Association Scotland, a charity registered in Scotland (SC048547).