Divert military finance to fund Lord Rees' new energy research initiative

Press release, 4 August 2006

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) [1] today welcomed the call by Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society, for a massive expansion in energy R&D, but argued that much of the new funding needed could be diverted from military coffers.

In an editorial in today's Science journal [2], Lord Rees made the case that government-funded energy R&D in the G8 countries needed to be massively expanded if we are to tackle the key issues of climate change and energy security. He argued that such funding could be raised through measures such as carbon taxes.

However, SGR argues that much of this extra funding could come by redirecting some of the massive resources currently earmarked for military activities. Given that many of the current and future global security concerns are related to energy ­ from the sourcing of fossil fuels in unstable countries and the security of nuclear power facilities to the global threat of climate change ­ SGR believes that reducing the huge G8 military budgets and using the finance gained to expand sustainable energy would offer much better value for money.

SGR's case is further strengthened by the considerable imbalance between the funding for government military R&D and that for energy R&D. Latest figures suggest that the G7 governments spend ten times as much on military R&D than energy R&D [3].

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Director of SGR, said: “Lord Rees is right to call for a massive increase in publicly-funded energy research in the G8 to tackle climate change and energy security. But with such a large amount of R&D resources currently being used by the military, there is a strong case for a significant proportion of these to be diverted.”


  1. SGR is an independent UK organisation of approximately 850 members across the natural and social sciences, engineering, IT, architecture and design. Its main aim is to promote ethical science, design and technology ­ based on the principles of openness, accountability, peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. For more information see http://www.sgr.org.uk/
  2. Rees, M. (2006). The G8 on Energy: Too Little. Science. 4 August. Vol. 313, no. 5787, p. 591. http://www.sciencemag.org/
  3. The total government R&D spending in the G7 countries on defence was £46.6 billion in 2003, while the equivalent figure for energy was £4.9 billion. These figures are calculated from Table 7.9 of: Department of Trade and Industry (2005). SET statistics. http://www.dti.gov.uk/science/science-funding/set-stats/index.html