“Climate Change – Collateral Damage of Military Spending”

International Conference

3F København
Peter Ipsens Alle 27
2400 Copenhagen NV

Over the past few years, Transform!Danmark International Climate Conferences have focused on the need for systemic change to tackle climate change. With this conference we want to continue and strengthen our arguments and work to build political, economic, social and ecological alternatives.


We wish to continue the debate on how to combat climate change, and why the current policies and state of affairs in EU/Brussels, nationally and globally are insufficient. The need for system change is central in understanding the insufficiency of present policies focusing on reform of the system and not systemic change. The present EU focus on a strategy of adaptation to climate change displays the core of the problem. There is no real political determination to deliver on what is needed to avoid the climate collapse that can be expected within the next 5 – 10 years or earlier. The consequences for the climate of the increase in militarisation of the Western societies are deliberately overlooked – there is very little or no climate accounting. Rather politicians acknowledge their poor performance in combating climate change and that there is nothing left to do now than to adapt to the consequences of global warming. Sometimes climate researchers even come under attack when warning about the dangerous rise in CO2 emissions.

The neoliberal era – as we know it – is at an end, there are clear signs of economic crisis. Persistent political attempts to combine climate policies with neoliberalism and economic growth will fail, to the detriment of the climate and us all. System change is needed to combat climate change. It is vital for an understanding of the climate struggle that it is part of the class struggle.

This is the core of our perspective to build political, economic, social, and ecological alternatives. The conference will also as previously offer a bid for more long-term versions of transformed societies: eco-socialism and eco-feminism, and continue the debate on the role of degrowth.

Key topics of the conference:

  • Rearmament and militarisation as some of the worst factors increasing CO2 emissions
  • Increase in extreme weather conditions
  • EU strategies for adapting to climate change and tackling the energy crisis
  • Climate issues outside Europe
  • Goal and results – the need for system change to combat climate change

The conference will be a Zoom/physical conference.

Saturday, 11 March 2023
09:30 – 18:00 (CET)

Venue: 3F København, Peter Ipsens Alle 27, 2400 Copenhagen NV

The conference language is English.

Organisers: Transform!Danmark – in cooperation with transform! europe, and Global Aktion, NOAH – Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion, Solidaritet, Kritisk Revy, Den Grønne Ungdomsbevægelse (The Green Youth Movement), Enhedslisten/Red-Green Alliance, and others.

For more information, see the Transform!Danmark website and Facebook-Event.

Events of the transform!Danmark climate conference cycle are described here.
Some reports are to be found under this link.


Saturday, 11 March

09:30 (CET): Registration and coffee/tea

10:00 (CET): Welcome

Session 1: Global considerations

10:20-11:00 (CET): “The War Party: From Bush to Obama and Trump to Biden, the doctrine of “American Exceptionalism” is undermining global security and threatening the planet.”

  • Jeremy Scahill (online), USA, investigative journalist on national security and US military international affairs, writer, co-founder and co-editor of The Intercept and books such as Dirty Wars and Blackwater

In the years since 9/11, the United States has experienced a series of unorthodox presidents. Barack Obama made history as the first African-American to win the White House, Donald Trump, a flamboyant and erratic businessman, defeated an establishment titan to take control, and Joe Biden—a career insider politician— is the oldest person ever to win the presidency. While there is a tendency to focus on the stark differences between these men and their policies, on some core matters there is little difference between their administrations. On national security policy, the U.S. has been on a steady, hypermilitarized arc for decades. Taken broadly, U.S. policy has been largely consistent on “national security” and “counterterrorism” matters from 9/11 to the present.

The Biden presidency is, perhaps more than any in recent history, a caretaker government, and on issues of counterterrorism, militarism, and national security, its constituency is the War Party. The bedrock principles of this bipartisan coalition revolve around a nonnegotiable set of understandings:

  • The U.S. has the sovereign right to unilaterally impose its will on the world.
  • The U.S. makes the rules of the international order but is not bound by them.
  • The U.S. will use the iron fist of militarism to defend neoliberal economic policies and the usurping of natural resources.
  • No national or international body is fit to stand in judgment of its actions or conduct.

What does it say about a country that manages to stay the imperial course through such a diverse succession of leaders as George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney), Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden?

11:00-11:40 (CET): “Consequences of climate change in Greenland and increasing international conflict in the Arctic area”

  • Kuupik Kleist, Greenland, Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) politician, former Chairperson IA and MP (Danish Parliament and Greenland Parliament), former Prime Minister Greenland, currently IIC (Inuit Circumpolar Conference) Vice-Chair and President IIC Greenland

Indigenous Arctic Peoples and the militarisation of the Arctic
Before and since the 2nd world war, the Arctic area became the buffer zone between then the 2 superpowers of the world, Russia and The United States. Meanwhile during the late 1980’s and the technical development the USA left and closed most of its military bases in Greenland, actually the only base left is the Thule Air Base.

Jumping to today’s situation, it seems that we are back to the cold war era, Greenland again in the middle, but also this time with slightly different players now that China’s interest in playing a role in the Arctic has increased.

For the Kingdom of Denmark, including Faroe Islands and Greenland, new challenges arise. From the US demand for Denmark to increase its military spending to Greenland and Faroe Islands practically and constitutionally having no influence on Danish defense policy and investments.

Inspired by:

  • Olsvig og Gad, ”Grønland som udenrigs- og sikkerhedspolitisk aktør”, in Rahbek Clemmensen & Sørensen (eds.)
  • Sara Olsvig: Ph.d.fellow at Ilisimatusarfik – The University of Greenland
  • Ulrik Pram Gad: Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies

11:55-12:45 (CET): Questions and debate

12:45-13:45 (CET): Lunch

13:45-16:00 (CET): Parallel sessions

Session 2: EU/Europe in a time of war and crisis: EU/European rearmament and “green” adaptation to sanctions against Russia and the effects on climate change. The response of left parties and the climate/environmental movement.

13:45-14:15 (CET): “Militarism in Europe on the rise but at what cost? “

  • Niamh Aine Ni Bhriain, Ireland – Transnational Institute, War and Pacification

Our world has never been more militarised. Global military spending is at a record high of US $2.1 trillion and governments worldwide are increasingly advocating militarism as an adequate and necessary response to tackle political, social, and economic challenges. Expressions of dissent, movement and migration, the climate crisis and health emergencies are being framed by our governments as threats to the stability of the nation-state. Public policy on issues that should be addressed as health or humanitarian concerns is instead being securitised and subsequently militarised to tackle the perceived threats. The latest example of this is with regard to climate where we see governments posing military ‘solutions’ to tackle the challenges of a warming planet. In this session we will look at how European policy has become more militarised over the past two decades, exposing who has reaped the massive financial benefits, while also recounting the deadly implications for those on the receiving end of such policies, in particular on those attempting to arrive at our shores. We will ask whether these policies have made us safer or heightened our sense of fear. Looking forward, we will ask ourselves how these militarised policies are likely to play out in an increasingly hostile and heated world and arguing that it is time to urgently shift course and de-militarise public policy.

14:15–14:45 (CET): Katerina Anastasiou – transform!europe, facilitator of the working group Migration and Global Strategy

14:45-15:15 (CET): “Avoiding a race to arms: reconsidering EU defence policy”

  • Marc Botenga (online), Workers’ Party of Belgium, MEP, THE LEFT in EP

Social and climate spending have come under pressure of an increasing desire to up military spending. The European Union has for many years now been looking at how to increase investment in the military industrial complex. Several programmes led to the establishment of the European Defence Fund. Russia’s war against Ukraine reinforced this tendency. The objective is the fostering of a so-called competitive EU military industry. In addition, weapons and military material sent to Ukraine will most likely be replaced by additional purchases of military material. The Defence Industry Reinforcement through common procurement act is being adapted to open up to US companies. But an arms race is not the only option. Taken together, EU Member States spend a lot more on defence already than most countries in the world, including Russia. Rather than looking at blindly increasing spending, at the cost of social and climate expenditure, we need to be looking at how to rationalize current spending and change our approach to defence and foreign policy. Better for the climate. Better for workers.

Session 3:  The impact of economic growth on climate change and systemic alternatives. The role of degrowth – is there such a thing as sustainable green growth ? Follow-up debate from 2022.

13:45–14:15 (CET): Andrea Vetter (online), Germany – Transformation researcher, activist, journalist

14:15 – 14:45 (CET): Luis González Reyes (online), Spain – Ecologistas en Acción

The green growth proposal is sustained under three premises: the development of renewable energies is capable of substituting all the benefits of fossil fuels, the dematerialization of the economy and technological development as the central solution to the challenges. The three premises have solid data that allow, at least, to question them. In addition, they imply entering situations of very high climatic risk. In contrast, degrowth proposals allow entering within the framework of climate security, while facing the energy, material and ecosystem crisis allowing a good life. These are measures that imply radical changes at an economic, political, and cultural level, but that are feasible.

16:00-16:15 (CET): Coffee break

16:15 – 17:00 (CET): Workshops/group discussion

17:00-18:00 (CET): Panel conclusion and short round-up


  • Vibeke Syppli Enrum, activist, Red-Green Alliance, Denmark, ExBoard member of the European Left