Climate change

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Developing carbon drawdown via algae

Franziska Elmer is a marine biologist working on a project to boost the growth of algae in the oceans as a carbon draw-down technique. She spoke to Stuart Jordan from Solidarity. We are working on a research and development project that investigates how the macroalgae Sargassum fluitans and natans can be grown in parts of the ocean that have very little nutrients in the surface water. A few hundred metres below the surface there is very nutrient-rich water that is currently not used by any organisms as there is no light for photosynthesis. By bringing this water up through artificial upwelling...

COP26 was no triumph, but the protests were a base to build on

In “COP and the credibility gap” (Solidarity 614) I covered the COP26 outcomes on energy generation. This week I cover other aspects. In transport, the biggest focus was on cars. A pledge of dozens of national and regional governments and automobile corporations committed to end the sale of new cars and vans with internal combustion engines by 2040, globally. This far-too-late deadline does not address cars that have already been bought before that date, or retrofitting. It does not aim to reduce the production and usage of this inefficient and environmentally destructive mode of transport, in...

COP26 and the credibility gap

Every shop, cafe, and business; every billboard and bus stop; numerous new, temporary, adverts and building-high canvases — all screaming the same, discordant, message. Glasgow during COP26: divergent corporations, some flashy NGOs, and the UK government; all competing to reassure us that they’re taking serious action on climate change. The environmental protestors across the city generally recognised that for the greenwashing it is. Yet our actions were in orbit around the opaque and exclusive negotiations themselves, in which delegates lived inside such a polite, reassuring fiction — that...

To save the climate, push back the bosses!

“System change, not climate change”, and similar slogans, were prominent on the 6 November demonstrations for the COP26 summit. Yes, we need to change the whole economic, social and political set-up, not just reduce emissions personally. What new system should we seek? And how? “One solution, revolution”, chanted the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Appeal on the London demonstration. That doesn’t help: who are they asking to do that? How? We are for a workers’ socialist revolution, in which the global working class replaces the power of capital with a new system based on collective...

On 6 November

From 6 November, comrades in Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, York, and Liverpool report climate turnouts relatively large for local protests. Others were smaller, but almost every city had something. The mood was generally leftish and receptive. The most common union banners were from the school workers’ union NEU (and UCU in London), but branch contingents were often small and of older members. Fair numbers of left-wing students, but organised uni contingents few or small. A relatively visible Labour Party presence in some places, more Green Party elsewhere. Not so much XR. London’s protest...

Climate change, China, and the Morning Star

To judge by the coverage in the Morning Star, COP26 has been little more than a China-bashing exercise by hypocritical western governments. As a statement from the Communist Party of Britain (published in the MS of 6-7 November) put it: “Attacks at Cop26 on China by US President Joe Biden and others ignore the fact that China is a developing country whose CO2 emissions per head are half those of the US, and whose solar and wind power generations have over the last seven years outstripped those of the whole European Union.” In fact, the “attacks” on China were mild stuff. Biden claimed that...

Climate finance: take it out of the bosses’ hands

A sadly mistaken and confused banner at the 6 November COP26 protest in London The International Energy Agency (IEA) roadmap for net zero by 2050 would cost on average $4 trillion annually until 2050, or just 5% of the new value that the workers worldwide produce each year. There is no indication that the current ruling class can make this happen. Mark Carney’s news of an alliance controlling $130 trillion “capital committed to net zero” sounds impressive, but is flimsy. Less an attempt to save the planet, more an attempt save face for fossil-fuel expanding capitalist business. GFANZ is a...

Sticking issue in Royal Parks

In my last column, I reported that the month-long strike by outsourced workers in Royal Parks had forced a major concession, with Just Ask, the outsourced contractor, proposing to increase sick pay entitlement from six days to a maximum of three months, depending on length of service. But they wanted a whole range of differentials to apply, so that only certain workers would get the increased sick pay. They have now backed down from that, so length of service will be the only variable affecting sick pay entitlement. Obviously, the ideal would be maximum entitlement for all workers from day one...

COP26: Building our movement

After Greta Thunberg issued an invitation to Glasgow’s striking refuse workers, a sizeable contingent of GMB strikers joined the Fridays For Future march in the COP26 city along with 10,000 or so exuberant demonstrators - mainly school students, and parents with small children. Other local trade union branches lined the street with their banners to greet the march as it reached George Square. There’s been a big trade union element within the COP26 Coalition, with its explicit slogan of climate justice. However, often the impression here is more of left union bureaucrats being involved than...

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