Environment Groups say No to War

March 30, 2003

Australia's major national and state environment groups, representing hundreds of thousands of Australians have today called for an urgent negotiated solution to the current conflict in Iraq.

The 16 groups including Greenpeace, the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth have announced their opposition to the war against Iraq, emphasising the deplorable loss of human life and disastrous environmental impacts.

The massive environmental costs of war were highlighted after the 1991 Gulf War. Burning oil wells and oil spills cause water and air pollution, while the use of depleted uranium in weapons causes long-lasting contamination dangerous to both humans and the environment.

"The environment is the voiceless victim of war and military conflict," said Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth Australia. "The enormous oil dependence of countries like the US is a major reason behind the war on Iraq. Along with the pressing issue of global climate change, this conflict highlights the urgent need to move to clean, safe and renewable energy sources".

"Just as global environmental problems require diplomacy and negotiation, so do global security issues," said Shane Rattenbury of Greenpeace Australia-Pacific. "The US Government¹s unilateral invasion of Iraq ­ and Australia¹s support for this - is a dangerous precedent which threatens a long history of international co-operation".

"War is not the answer to international conflict and we call on the Australian Government to act immediately to support negotiated solutions to the Iraq crisis," concluded Don Henry Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation. "There are no winners in war."

For comment

Cam Walker
Friends of the Earth Australia
Mobile 0419 338 047

Don Henry
Australian Conservation Foundation
Mobile 0418 501 395

Shane Rattenbury
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Mobile 0412 485 975

WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

We the undersigned environment groups are opposed to the war against Iraq and deplore the loss of human life and the disastrous environmental and social impacts.

We urge the Australian Government to pursue all possible avenues to bring about a diplomatic resolution with Iraq through the United Nations.

We support diplomacy, negotiation, international treaties and non-military options to resolve disputes and to promote human rights, environmental protection and sustainable societies.

The war in Iraq is clearly inconsistent with this approach to foreign policy.

On a shared planet and with an increasingly interdependent world, we support cooperation ahead of conflict.

A major motivation for the US-led war against Iraq is the perceived need to safeguard access to oil in the region. We believe that the best solution to the problem of oil dependency by highly industrialised countries is an increased reliance on clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources.

The destruction of the natural environment has itself become a tactic of war. Forests in Vietnam were chemically defoliated, and in 1991 the burning of oil wells in Kuwait during the Gulf War was both a political and military tactic. The Gulf War battlefields remain littered with discarded radioactive ordinance, resulting in continuing dangers to human and environmental health.

There are no ultimate winners in war ­ neither people, nations, nor the planetary ecosystem.

We maintain that national security would be better realised by working towards sustainable, meaningful lives for all, rather than increasing defence and security spending and engaging in armed conflicts.

Signed:

Australian Conservation Foundation
Cairns and the Far North Environment Centre
Conservation Council of South Australia
Conservation Council of the south East Region and Canberra
Conservation Council of Western Australia
Environment Centre Northern Territory
Environs Kimberley
Environment Victoria
Friends of the Earth Australia
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
National Parks Australia Council
National Toxics Network
Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales
North Queensland Conservation Council
Queensland Conservation Council
The Wilderness Society