The UK is pouring resources into an industry which has a devastating impact on human and international security. Meanwhile it is failing to address the biggest threat to all of us: the climate crisis.
Many of the skills used to make military equipment could be better used to produce renewable technology. This could have the dual benefit of creating thousands of well-paid jobs in a growing sector, and offsetting some of the immense damage that is being done while helping to create a greener and safer world for us all.
A fuller transition away from arms and towards renewables and other areas of engineering is a long-term process, but progress can start now. There is no doubt that such a change would require major support and political will from government, but if these changes are made then it can help us to prepare for a different future based on different political and economic choices.
Real security involves tackling the causes of problems, not creating more, and climate change is one of the biggest that we face. It threatens all of our lives: Millions of people already face food and water shortages. Extreme weather events, flooding and droughts will displace populations and create conflict over resources. If we really want a safer world, we must cut carbon emissions fast.
The UK is in a powerful position to play its part. Offshore wind power has amazing potential in the UK. We have the largest wind resources in Europe and already have as much capacity installed as the rest of the world combined. We also have substantial wave and tidal resources.
CAAT’s research shows that a move towards offshore wind and marine energy could produce more jobs than the entire arms industry.
These jobs would provide alternative employment for arms trade workers. Like arms, the renewable energy sector is highly skilled. It has a similar breakdown across broad categories of skill levels and employ many of the same branches of engineering.
There would also be appropriate work available in most areas where arms workers are located, with tens of thousands of supply chain jobs that could be located anywhere in the country.
These would be better jobs for the workers and for all of us: jobs in an industry which is growing not declining, which create a safer, rather than a more dangerous world.
If we invest now, the UK would be in a leading position in technologies that will be in high demand, will have major export potential, and will also help other countries cut their carbon emissions. But this potential won’t be realised without action.
- It needs investment and concerted UK government effort at the level currently devoted to the arms industry
- It desperately needs highly-skilled engineers – like those currently working in the arms industry
- And it needs all of us: to make the government shift priorities and create more and better jobs and a safer world for all