The environment

From fossil-fuel bottlenecks to planned rundown

Amused celebration was the reaction of a few XR environmental activists with whom I discussed the recent fuel shortage. Yet there are environmental costs of a short term price spike prompting panic buying, hoarding and stockpiling; and stationary cars belching out exhaust in gridlocked cities as they scramble for precious fossil juice. And that’s before we consider fuel poverty. We need as large a reduction in fuel use and reliance as possible, in as short a time period as possible. But this can be done fastest and most equitably through planned and co-ordinated transformations, not market...

Pedantic, empty and false on "metabolic rift"

It is unfortunate that Matt Cooper chose the eve of international climate mobilisations for his belated foray into Marxist ecological politics (Solidarity 607, 22 September 2021). His musing is vacuous, error-strewn and offers no alternative. Worse, he disparagingly misrepresents the ecological Marxism that underpins the AWL’s climate politics. His essay serves only as an exercise in stale pedantry. Marx During the mid-1840s, as Marx and Engels developed their materialist conception of history, they were already engaged with ecological questions. They conceived of nature as totality, with...

Final "Socialist Green New Deal" motion going to Labour conference 2021

This is the left-wing “composite” motion backed by various unions including the Fire Brigades Union and a large number of Constituency Labour Parties. For our notes written in advance on what should be in the motion, see here. See here for the broadly similar policy Labour conference passed in 2019. Conference notes: • As with Covid, the climate crisis exposes sharply the inequalities in society in the UK and internationally and we must ensure that workers are at the heart of any future programme and that means unshackling trade unions. • The UK faces a post-covid unemployment crisis with...

What will be in Labour’s Green New Deal motions?

There has been controversy around the Green New Deal motions to Labour Party conference (25-9, Brighton), after the “Green Jobs Revolution” motion promoted by Labour for a Green New Deal (LGND) was ruled out by the Conference Arrangements Committee. Following protests it was reinstated. “Green Jobs Revolution”, submitted by 22 CLPs, is one of several left-wing motions in the Green New Deal section. There are also CLP motions under the title “Global Climate Justice” and motions from the FBU, BFAWU and TSSA unions. Then there is a more right-wing or conservative motion from the GMB, some...

More cows will mend soil, will mend climate? No!

David Walters (Solidarity 586) highlights important environmental considerations concerning soil. The destruction, degradation, depletion of soil through intensive mono-cropping; the nitrogen run-off and energy use of artificial fertilisers; the numerous destructive impacts of chemical pesticides. Yet his key claim that “we need more ruminants (grass eaters) not less” does not follow and is untenable. In the first section I contend that Walters overstates the potential for soil to be used to offset historic industrial emissions, by implication underplaying their dangers, and by extension the...

Marx, the environment, and "metabolic rift"

For the last twenty years the idea of the “metabolic rift” has become a key component in reconstructing an approach to environmental crises based on the works of Marx. This has been critically discussed in the pages of Solidarity, particularly by Paul Hampton who has suggested that these ideas are an important source for anyone seeking to understand how capitalism impacts on the environment but do not constitute a rounded theory.[1]Here, I take a more critical approach and suggest that the idea of the metabolic rift may be a dead-end.[2] The idea of the metabolic rift has been popularised by...

Edinburgh Central sends radical "global climate justice" policy to Labour conference

Republished from Momentum Internationalists Edinburgh Central Constituency Labour Party has decided to send the "Global Climate Justice" motion which left activists successfully put forward in Momentum's policy primary to Labour conference (see text below). Vijay, the the CLP's Political Education Officer and one of its conference delegates, explained why Edinburgh Central wanted to call for democratic public control in the financial sector: "Regulation simply isn't enough - we need to nationalise the banks and financial sector because we cannot allow that much capital and power to remain in...

Animal products and the environment — readings

Many on the green left advocate a huge reduction in animal product consumption, society- and world-wide. They point to the industry's environmentally destructive impacts, and call for land to be freed up for rewilding, afforestation, and other climate interventions. Others see it as a distraction from tackling fossil capital, an incorrect assessment of agriculture, a concession to lifestyle politics, moralism, or even authoritarian. What should socialist environmentalists say and do? Workers' Liberty's monthly socialist environmentalist reading group will read the articles below, and discuss...

Can the Green Bans be emulated?

Uncharted waters: social responsibility in Australian trade unions , by Greg Mallory (2005) investigated the NSW BLF Green Bans. Until recently Greg had been President of the Brisbane Labour History Association for 17 years. Workers Liberty has previously reported on his research into Green Bans: see here and here. Janet Burstall asked Greg some new questions, to help uncover issues for eco-socialist trade unionists to take into account, in promoting workers' control as a means for tackling climate change. JB: The NSW BLF Green Bans must be the most quoted example around the world of workers...

Readings on degrowth

For a study session on degrowth, I thought I'd share some more readings on the topic. This is by no means comprehensive but should give a flavour of the arguments that have been taking place in Capitalism Nature Socialism and New Left Review. Personally I think none of them manage to develop a Marxist analysis of the matter. Nonetheless, it is important to engage in and contribute to this discussion. Happy to help any questions about the texts - and please share more [e.g. in the comments] if you have come across something. We will be reading the first too for our reading group (a...

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