The British defence establishment is spoiling to become the global climate police.
Senior politicians and officials seem to be carving out a new green role for Britain’s armed forces and so-called ‘intelligence’ agencies. According to these reports, troops and spies could soon be doing Gaia’s work… protecting the Amazon from loggers, and covertly monitoring emissions from China’s factories and power stations.
The first stirrings of Greta’s Army came in the form of the Integrated Review – titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age – back in March. It set out to describe ‘the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world’. The review makes a number of bland promises, such as ‘a more robust position on security and resilience’, ‘a renewed commitment to the UK as a force for good in the world’, and ‘an increased determination to seek multilateral solutions to challenges like climate change’. The full text of the review mentions ‘climate’ 90 times across 112 pages, and puts the environment at the centre of foreign policy.
Following this, the Ministry of Defence published its own report, Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach. In it, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee sets out his plan to make killing people and blowing things up more easy on Mother Nature. However, despite making lots of statements about intent, and how great the world will be when these intentions are realised, Nugee gives Net Zero explanation as to how this woke, green army will achieve Net Zero carbon emissions. Nugee fails to explain how a nuclear bomb can be used with minimal environmental impact or how an army, navy and air force (and shiny new Space Command) can be built from recycled materials, and powered by wind and sunlight.
Then, this month, the new head of MI6, Richard Moore, described climate change as the ‘foremost international foreign-policy item for this country and for the planet’. The ‘climate emergency’, said Moore, gave MI6 a role in keeping tabs on Chinese manufacturing. ‘It is perhaps our job to make sure that what they are really doing reflects what they have signed up to.’
Failed Conservative Party leader William Hauge also riffed on the scenarios created by the Integrated Review. ‘In the past, the UK has been willing to use all of our firepower, both military and diplomatic, to secure and extract fossil fuels’, he wrote for the Policy Exchange think-tank. ‘But in the future, the UK will need to use all of its diplomatic capacity to ensure that these resources are not used and that natural environments are protected.’ Citing the apocryphal destruction of a ‘football pitch-sized area of the Amazon rainforest every minute’ (which has been widely debunked), Hague claimed that ‘realpolitik will leave the UK with a dilemma: ease up the pressure on climate-change delinquents like Brazil or forget about your trade deal’. […]
The most striking thing is the message of utter bad faith all this sends out to the world. The government is currently hoping to broker a global agreement at the COP26 later this year. Listening to the green interventionist you would think this was supposed to embody Britain’s status as a ‘global leader’ – as though Britain had conceived and convened the meeting rather than merely being the 26th host country of the tortured annual ritual. Yet what our establishment is essentially saying is that the reward for signing the deal is that Britain’s spies will be watching, and our armed forces will be standing ready to make sure you comply. Stay in your lane, emerging economies! If an agreement is not premised on trust, but will instead be policed by a fading global power, why would any self-respecting, sovereign government sign up to it?
So what can we expect from this new era of ecological interventionism? It seems unlikely that green espionage will do anything other than lead to a faster termination of any global climate agreement than, perhaps, Trump suddenly being remade president of the US.