As part of a series of actions this spring, climate activists rallied and marched in New York City on Monday “to demand that our tax money stop being used to fund endless war and environmental destruction.”
“We demand a liveable future.”
Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) marked Tax Day with the “No Wars, No Warming” demonstration outside a federal building in NYC where various agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), have offices.
Demonstrators perched on top of and locked themselves to two 15-foot tripods installed near the Charging Bull sculpture to block traffic on Broadway, according to organizers. Nine activists were arrested.
“We recognize that the people who are most often placed in harm’s way from armed conflict are also the people who have and will continue to face the brunt of the climate crisis,” says the XR event webpage. “In this moment, after two years of Covid-19, our tax money should be funding social services that benefit the communities most impacted by the climate crisis and most affected by decades of systemic underfunding.”
“The U.S. has no problem dumping over half of its federal budget into policing the rest of the world through the Pentagon but refuses to cover the things people actually need,” the page adds. “Join us to demand that our tax money stop fossil-fueling endless war, and start funding healthcare, green jobs and infrastructure, other climate adaptation measures, and housing. We demand a liveable future.”
The action outside the IRS is part of XR’s Spring Rebellion, which is a “massive, sustained civil disobedience campaign in NYC” from last Wednesday through Saturday.
“Our tax money should be funding a mass mobilization off fossil fuels, supporting the communities most impacted by the climate crisis, and addressing mitigation and adaptation measures,” said XR activist Emma Jacobs in a statement Monday. “Fossil fuel use is a direct cause of the climate crisis, yet still the Biden administration continues to gaslight us and call himself the ‘climate president’ all while perpetuating environmental destruction.”
“We cannot be reliant on the fossil fuel economy and have a military and defense industry which is one of the highest emitters in the world,” the activist asserted. “Reliance on fossil fuels propagates wars and forces relationships with governments who control the fossil fuel supply. Plus, the U.S. military produces more carbon dioxide than countries including Denmark, Sweden, and Portugal.”
Noting that “since 2001 alone, our military has emitted nearly 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases,” Jacobs argued “this is unsustainable for our country and our planet. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, our hard-earned tax dollars should be spent avoiding catastrophic climate change, lifting up the least advantaged, and creating opportunities in a more peaceful, environmentally stable society.”
The NYC campaign follows a recent global uprising of scientists affiliated with the group. The protests—including one that led to 13 arrests this past Saturday—also come after the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which was released in early April and underscored the necessity of bolder action to cut planet-heating emissions.
Recognizing that “no one societal branch is fully responsible for the failure of our leaders to act,” the XR organizers in NYC have demands directed at the government, financial institutions, and media.
XR isn’t alone in calling for taking tax dollars from the U.S. war machine and instead investing in initiatives that serve people. Other groups involved in Monday’s action included 350 NYC, Brooklyn for Peace, CodePink, NYC War Resisters League, Peace Action NYS, Resistance in Brooklyn, Roses and Bread, Veterans for Peace, and the World Can’t Wait.
Additionally, the National Priorities Project (NPP) at the Institute for Policy Studies on Friday released a breakdown of how much the average taxpayer paid toward various government expenses last year.
For example, NPP found that the average taxpayer paid $929 for Pentagon contractors compared with just $171 for K-12 education.
NPP also revealed that the average taxpayer paid $62 for nuclear weapons versus only $27 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The main message?” the group said Friday. “We are investing too much in the military and law enforcement, and not enough on prevention, people, and communities.”
This post has been updated with additional details and comment about Monday’s demonstration.