PNND and the Climate - Nuclear Disarmament Nexus

PNND's Climate-Nuclear Disarmament Nexus program highlights the connections between the climate crisis and the threat from nuclear weapons, advances policy solutions to address both issues, and builds cooperation between legislators, experts and civil society movements working on these two issues. 

The Climate-Nuclear Disarmament Nexus

For over a decade, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and the World Future Council have been highlighting the connections between nuclear threats, nuclear disarmament and climate change, advancing policy options to address both threats, and building cooperation amongst legislators, experts, diplomats (government and UN officials) and civil society actors engaged in the two issues.

This Climate-Nuclear Disarmament nexus is now gaining more recognition and attention globally. And cooperative actions on the two issues are building momentum (see Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Programs, appeals and events below for some examples).

Connections between climate change and nuclear weapons/disarmament

The connections between climate change and nuclear weapons/disarmament include:

  • The impacts of climate change emissions and the use of nuclear weapons are trans-border and transgenerational. They cannot be contained in either time nor space – impacting globally and far into the future.
  • Neither issue can be resolved solely at national levels, but require international cooperation and the building of common security.
  • Climate change stimulates conflicts that could spill over into nuclear conflict, while any use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict would create catastrophic climatic consequences, compounding the current impact of climate change emissions. 
  • The human and financial resources currently devoted to nuclear weapons are desperately required to instead be invested in assist carbon emission reduction and climate stabilisation.  

These connections are expressed more fully in publications of PNND and World Future Council, including:

Disarmament, climate and sustainable development, Chapter 5 of Assuring our Common Future, provides examples of effective policies and parliamentary action on disarmament to protect the environment, including the Climate-Nuclear Disarmament Nexus.

Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Programs, appeals and events

The Climate-Nuclear Nexus is integrated into a number of PNND and WFC programs including Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, UNFOLD ZERO, #WeThePeoples2020 and our Gender, Peace and Security program.

We have organised a number of events, appeals and publications highlighting the Climate-Nuclear Nexus (see program activities below). And we work in cooperation with Basel Peace Office and Youth Fusion to engage youth in nuclear disarmament and climate change.

PNND and World Future Council are also working in cooperation with the Normandy Chair for Peace and World's Youth for Climate Justice on the Legal Rights of Future Generations, and how these rights are impacted by nuclear weapons and climate change. This work includes a campaign to take the issue of climate change to the International Court of Justice, inspired by, and drawing upon, the historic 1996 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the (Il)Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons.

The Climate-Nuclear Disarmament Nexus and the law protecting future generations, will be explored in the International Court of Justice ICJ) in detail if and when the campaign to take climate change to the ICJ succeeds. The campaign is inspired by the 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion on the (Il)Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, which highlighted the rights of future generations and declared that 'The destructive impact of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in time or space.'

Move the Nuclear Weapons Money and the climate

Move the Nuclear Weapons Money was established by PNND, World Future Council and a number of other partner organizations. It focuses on cutting nuclear weapons budgets, ending investments in the nuclear weapons industry, and re-directing these budgets and investments to support renewable energy, climate stabilisation and sustainable development.

The campaign has advanced legislative actions such as:

  1. Nuclear weapons divestment by four non-nuclear governments arising from action by PNND members (see Nuclear weapons divestment: Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland in Assuring our Common Future: Disarmament, climate and sustainable development);
  2. Legislative measures in nuclear armed states to cut nuclear weapons budgets to support instead the climate. See, for example the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act  introduced by PNND Member Eleanor Holmes Norton, and U.S. Senator Markey introduces Act to slash nuclear weapons spending).

The campaign has also organised a number of events on nuclear budgets and divestment, and on building cooperation with fossil fuel divestment campaigns. See, for example, Basel city hosts successful conference on Move the Nuclear Weapons Money and Webinar: Move the Nuclear Weapons (and fossil fuel) Money.

Count the Nuclear Weapons Money and the climate

During disarmament week 2019, peace, disarmament and climate campaigners undertook a political/artistic/social media action in New York counting out over $500 billion in mock notes, taking the notes from missiles and relocating them to the 17 sustainable development goals including climate action.

The counting action on October 25, outside the United Nations, focused specifically on moving the money to support the climate. See Nuke money counted at School Strike 4 Climate at the UN.

A companion counting outside the Ministry of Defence in London, also focused on shifting the money to protect the climate. See Peace volunteers in London count £5.2billion and move it from nuclear weapons to trees.

PNND Co-President Bill Kidd (Member, Scottish Parliament) counting nuclear weapons money with Vanda Proskova (Czech Republic) and Susanna Choe (USA) and allocating the money to some of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNFOLD ZERO and #WeThePeoples2020

UNFOLD ZERO is a platform that highlights United Nations initiatives and processes to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. It also connects disarmament with UN action on the climate. This includes:

Protect People and the Planet, the global appeal for a nuclear-weapon-free world, calls for nuclear weapons budgets and investments to be slashed, and the funds redirected to support UN goals including drastic reductions in carbon emissions to stabilise the climate.

Climate, gender, peace and security

PNND’s Gender, peace and security program focuses on three aspects of gender relevant to the nuclear weapons field: inclusion, political dynamics and impact of nuclear weapons. The climate crisis relates to at least two of these aspects, and is therefore addressed in our Gender, peace and security events and actions including: the 2020 Women’s Appeal: Human security for public health, peace and sustainable development, the 2018 Women Legislators’ Appeal: Common security for a sustainable and nuclear-weapon-free world and the 2008 PNND Co-President’s Joint Statement delivered to NATO and the UN on The priority of peace and disarmament for the global community.

The Priority of Peace and Disarmament for the Global Community

We must end the out-dated doctrine where-by a few States erroneously believe that their security can be achieved by threatening to destroy other countries with nuclear weapons. The threats to our planet – of climate change, poverty and war – can only be overcome by nations and the global community working in cooperation – something not possible while nations maintain large and expensive militaries and threaten to destroy each other.
Joint statement by PNND Co-Presidents Uta Zapf MdB (Germany), Hon Marian Hobbs MP (New Zealand), Senator Abacca Anjain Maddison (Marshal Islands), Alexa McDonough MP (Canada) and Mikyung Lee (South Korea), May 24, 2008

Youth and the climate – nuclear disarmament nexus

PNND and WFC work in cooperation with Youth Fusion and Basel Peace Office to engage youth in the climate – nuclear disarmament nexus.

Program activities include the Peace, nuclear Abolition and Climate Engaged Youth (PACEY) Award, Youth voices and inter-generational dialogue on climate, peace and disarmament projectAfrican youth voices for the climate, peace and nuclear disarmament, and various events including the 2020 webinar Youth Actions for Climate, Nuclear Disarmament and Sustainable Development and the 2021 Basel Intergenerational forum on peace, the climate, nuclear disarmament and the pandemic.

Youth from the Middle East, Europe, Africa and around the world participated in the Youth voices and inter-generational dialogue on climate, peace and disarmament project run by Basel Peace Office, PNND, World Future Council and Youth Fusion.

Other Climate-Nuclear Disarmament Nexus events

PNND and World Future Council have organised (or co-organised) a number of other events bringing nuclear disarmament and climate change experts and advocates together with legislators to advance the climate – nuclear disarmament nexus and build cooperation between the movements. These include: