US v China military and green transition spending

There is no way to dress this up. If you look at the figures for investment in military spending as a ratio of investment in domestic green transition it becomes obvious what each country’s priorities are.

The agreed US military budget for 2023 is $858 billion. The investment in green transition earmarked by the Inflation Reduction Act is $369 billion between now and 2030. So, 858 multiplied by 8 years gives a total spend of $6864 billion by 2030. Divide that by the 369 billion to be invested in green transition and you get a ratio of 18.6:1. So, for every dollar spent on green transition in the United States, $18.60 is spent on the armed forces.

China’s military budget for 2022 was $229 billion, according to Jane’s. The investment earmarked for green transition – for a carbon peak before 2030 and neutrality by 2060 – is $450 – 570 billion a year, according to China Briefing. That gives a ratio of between just under 2:1 and 2.5:1, so on average more than twice as much being invested in green transition as on the military.

So, the US, eighteen times as much on the military. China, twice as much on greening. It’s quite obvious from this which country’s investment is more beneficial to the world making a viable transition to sustainability.

These calculations assume flat military budgets. An additional reason that none of us can afford the new cold war that the US is determined to pursue is that China will be forced to devote more resources to defence, which will slow the transition. A reduced US military budget, on the other hand, would allow both countries to transition quicker and allow greater cooperation to that end.

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