§1. Climate change is a fact of life on earth in the early 21st century and in all likelihood will remain a significant ecological and social question for the foreseeable future. It has substantial consequences for working class politics. The AWL has a significant role to play in drawing out the political implications of dangerous climate change and taking part in the fight to prevent it.
A. The science of climate change
§2. There is now a wide consensus among scientists and governments that climate change is unequivocal. Average global temperature rose significantly during the 20th century and has risen faster since 1970.
§3. Increases in temperature are very likely due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from human activity. Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly since 1750. These increases are due primarily to fossil fuel use, land-use and agriculture.
§4. As far as can be determined, the positive feedback effects outweigh the negative feedback effects: that is, an increase in carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, and consequent warming, tends on balance to reduce rather than to increase the capacity of the earth's surface to reabsorb or to retain carbon. Beyond a certain level, for example if the melting of large tracts of previously permanently frozen ground releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, the positive feedback can become catastrophic.
§5. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, temperatures will rise to dangerous or even catastrophic levels for the ecosystem and for human social life.
B. Marxism and climate change
§6. Since its inception in the 1840s, Marxism has had a well-defined conception of nature and consequently had much to say about ecological issues. Marxists including the forerunners of the AWL began discussing climate change in the 1980s. However we have not until recently started to develop a coherent political response.
§7. A Marxist materialism must recognise the natural and environmental limits to human and animal life. Marxism also registers that little of nature remains untouched by present day human society. Climate change is the clearest expression of the production of nature by class society. In Capital, Marx described the metabolism between human society and its natural environment. Climate change is a form of the metabolic rift between humanity and the conditions of our existence.
§8. For Marxists, climate change is the product of class relations and in particular of capitalist social relations of production. The Marxist account of capitalism centres on the exploitation of waged labour by capital in the context of generalised commodity production. But the same processes that lead to the pumping of surplus value from the working class also lead through the capitalist labour process to the degradation of nature. The production of commodities, in which use value is distinguished from exchange value, is the root of both the exploitation of waged labour and the despoliation of eco-systems.
§9. The avid pursuit of profit by competing capitals is the driving force behind the exhaustive use of fossil fuel energy sources. Accumulation is the goal of capitalism as a whole and takes place regardless of the consequences. This implies: expansion into ever-wider areas of space and their subsumption under the rule of capital, the creation of a constant stream of commodities that permit the realisation of value however wasteful this may be and the attempt to keep consumption at a level at which this realisation can be assured.
The working class and climate change
§10. The special interest of the working class in preventing climate change is given by the common root of exploitation and environmental degradation. Just as waged workers are the basic exploited class under capitalism, so capitalist relations give rise to environmental damage.
§11. The working class also has a special interest in preventing climate change because workers are hardest hit by its effects. Workers will be expected to pay for market-inspired “solutions” in the form of lower wages, higher prices, higher taxes and other penalties. Preventing climate change is a matter of basic working class solidarity and internationalism.
§12. The working class has the social power to prevent climate change. Workers have the power to strike, to occupy workplaces and to halt production. The working class has the power to substantially modify and partially control the labour process under capitalism, both for its own material well-being and for wider social goals. Workers have the potential to control and limit carbon emissions through collective action.
§13. Workers have the social power to overthrow capitalism and to reorganise production under different imperatives – such as to meet social needs and to respect ecological limits. Workers have the power to control the size and distribution of the surplus product through the common social ownership and control of natural resources and the means of production.
C. Bourgeois politics on climate change
§14. Marxist analysis goes beyond the simple attribution of climate change to the profit motive. Arguments at this superficial level allow for the possibility that environmental protection itself (including climate change mitigation) may be accomplished profitably, if only the right conditions are established by the state. Such politics are now widely put forward by business and its representatives in government – e.g. the Stern Report 2006.
§15. Marxists believe that in a world of competing capitals, some sections of the bourgeoisie will look upon climate change as an opportunity to make profits, whilst other sections of capital will see mitigation as a threat to their current and future profits. Above all Marxists preach no trust in the capacity of the bourgeoisie to tackle climate change.
§16. Given the nature of capitalist social relations and the system of competitive states, international and national agreements will in all likelihood fail to prevent dangerous climate change. The lamentable record of attempts to reduce carbon emissions from the Rio summit in 1992 to the Kyoto agreement in 1997 – as well as the recent talks in Bali – suggest that the global capitalist class will not seriously tackle the problem.
§17. Marxists recognise the ideological dimension of climate change and the way in which it has become part of the dominant, hegemonic discourse of the ruling class. Climate change will be and already is used to rationalise anti- working class politics. It will form a component of the justification of governments and employers who want workers to pay for the “transition to a low carbon economy”.
§18. The price mechanism is the principal means by which capitalism allocates resources. Therefore most bourgeois political responses to climate change assume that mechanisms to create or work with the market (e.g. emissions trading, carbon taxes) are the answer.
§19. It is both characteristic and sickening that capitalism can only deal with a threat to the future of humanity by creating another commodity that can be traded at a profit. This represents the commodification of another sphere of life rather than an adequate approach to reducing carbon emissions.
§20. Capitalists measure profit as the amount of money left over after the outlays on production and distribution have been met. There are manifold ambiguities in the way profit is recorded, some depending on the accounting honesty of a particular firm others a straightforward omission from the books. One such example is the depletion of natural capacity in the process of production. For example, if all the real costs of creating a hamburger were factored in and if the producer wanted to maintain the current level of profit, consumers would have to pay around £100 at the McDonald's counter. Each and every item put on the market for exchange has a hidden, unaccounted for ecological cost. They have never been consistently recorded because there has been no incentive to do so – nobody currently owns biodiversity, the water or carbon cycles (and nor should they!). Any attempt by capital to adjust itself to account for these costs is unlikely – such moves would destabilise the market and squeeze their own profits. Capital faces the spectre of a significant rise in costs related to the depletion in natural capacity (for example the cost of moving production to areas not ecologically exhausted by production or the cost or renewing such areas). How they will respond to this rise in costs and the implications it will have upon workers is an urgent question for the labour movement.
Carbon trading schemes
§21. Carbon trading schemes have not prevented the growth of carbon emissions. Countries, industries and firms receive quotas of emissions, but there is nothing to prevent them exceeding them. They just have to pay the market price set for the permits by supply and demand. Supply is set by governments to reflect an “acceptable” level of emissions. If, as with the EU scheme, this level is set too high (and there will be pressure from business to ensure it is) the net effect may be zero or even negative. Rather than restricting carbon emissions, the scheme serves primarily to enrich those (heavily carbon-emitting) businesses that secure big quotas and the traders who skim off fees from the trading.
§22. The trading of carbon credits may also be a means for the export of the costs of adjustment from advancedcountries who have far more financial power, to others. By buying up the carbon credits of less polluting (typically less industrialised) countries, the advanced countries can both carry on polluting themselves and force others to cut their emissions.
§23. Our general policy is for direct progressive taxation, summed up by the slogan: “Tax the rich”. Indirect taxation is almost always regressive (anti-egalitarian – because poorer people pay more as a proportion of their income) and elitist (entrenching certain forms of consumption as the exclusive preserve of the rich). We don’t rule out the use of indirect taxes on particularly polluting activities and products but we should only promote them where alternative policies (regulatory and infrastructural measures and subsidies for greener alternatives) are not practical and where the likely effect is a change towards less polluting consumption patterns rather than simply raising the cost of living for working class people or preventing working-class access to travel, leisure, culture etc. We do not see indirect taxation as an instinctive first response to carbon pollution.
§24. We have no objection to linking taxes on cars to their fuel economy/carbon emissions. The proposal to charge a higher rate of congestion charge for Band G vehicles (the category of highest-carbon-emitting vehicles which includes many but not all 4-wheel-drive vehicles and also includes many high performance, luxury and executive cars) should be broadly supported but we should point out the inadequacy of this measure and demand regulatory and infrastructural measures to shift use from high-emitting to low-emitting vehicles and from cars to public transport, cycling and walking. We can also support further measures against 4x4s on road safety grounds (e.g. restricting ownership by requiring owners to demonstrate a need for their off-road vehicle – e.g. for use in farming or forestry).
§25. We do not make a priority of demanding lower taxes on vehicle fuels. However, we point out that the expansion of affordable public transport, in particular rail, bus and coach services (financed by progressive taxation), backed up by regulation such as enforcing bus lanes in cities and towns and coach lanes on motorways, will be more effective as well as more egalitarian than taxing fuel in making public transport a more attractive option than the private car.
§26. Almost half of journeys by air in Europe are now less than 500km. For many such relatively short journeys, air travel is now much cheaper than rail, despite being ten times as polluting. That is in part due to the low rate of taxation on air travel. There is no tax on aviation fuel, and it costs about $800 per metric tonne, as against about $3000 for petrol in the UK or $1000 in the USA, and $400 for bunker (shipping) fuel. We demand policies that would have the effect of replacing short-hop air travel with rail and coach travel. Primarily, this means improving and expanding rail and coach networks and regulation limiting air travel, including bans on flights if less-polluting, viable, alternative transport is available. Taxes on short-hop flights could be part of such a policy and we don’t necessarily oppose them, but we shouldn’t make them our priority demand. Subsidies and incentives
§27. We are for subsidies and incentives focused on those who would not otherwise afford to undertake energy saving or emission reducing actions such as insulation. We support subsidies for cheap or free travel on public transport. We are against tax breaks or other hand outs to capital as a means of compensation for ending environmentally damaging forms of production.
§28. Our attitude towards rationing is basically the same as towards taxation: acceptable only where there is no better alternative but not the basis for a general strategy to resolve global warming. Rationing is more equitable than regressive taxation, though the rich will usually have access to a grey market. It is in addition highly bureaucratic. We are opposed to individual carbon rationing, which would be unworkably complex.
§29. We do not believe that capitalism can be regulated out of existence. However we support environmental regulation to mobilise workers against the interests of capital and to secure immediate changes. Regulatory measures are the most effective way of ensuring emissions reductions, as long as they are adequately enforced, and should be the main focus for our immediate demands.
§30. We want regulation designed to affect global warming on:
- what can be produced, how and where (e.g. forcing companies to adopt low emissions technology; preventing wasteful production);
- outlawing certain forms of consumption (deforestation);
- issues concerned with land use and planning (building of roads and airports).
§31. There are current no viable “technological fixes” to smoothly circumvent the contradiction between maintaining current levels of production and consumption and reducing CO2 emissions.
§32. "Carbon capture" technology, whereby you burn fossil fuels but pump the carbon dioxide underground, will in the foreseeable future be too expensive and too limited to offer serious alleviation. Even were it to be practical, carbon capture would allow current levels of emissions to continue.
§33. Opencast coal mining: We are opposed to opencast coal mining and new coal fired power stations because:
- coal is a high-carbon-emitting fossil fuel (even in comparison with other fossil fuels)
- opencast mining poses a serious public health problem
- opencast mining is particularly destructive and despoiling of the environment, threatening biodiversity, local eco- systems and the aesthetic qualities of the countryside.
§34. The UK government is promoting nuclear energy as part of its strategy to reduce carbon emissions. It wants private capital to build a new generation of nuclear reactors over the next fifteen years. We should oppose the expansion of nuclear power in today’s conditions of capitalist globalisation. In particular we should oppose the British government’s promotion of a new generation of nuclear reactors. A new generation of nuclear reactors would only make a small contribution to cutting carbon emissions, but with huge side effects, such as an increased risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, the risk of a catastrophic reactor accident and the generation of waste. Nuclear power is not going to be cheaper than many renewable energy sources by the time new plants are built, and may detract from efforts to develop renewables or improve energy efficiency.
[Defeated amendment on nuclear energy]
Replace all of §34 by an addition to §31:
Sustainable human development requires the replacement of electricity generation from fossil fuels by less emitting and more durable forms. At present nuclear power is the most thoroughly developed and tested form of base-load electricity generation, and certainly among the safest. It would be foolish for us to play scientific super-expert, and claim that we have an assured way of managing the replacement of fossil fuels while using only wind, wave, tidal, solar, hydroelectric and similar alternatives; equally foolish, of course, for us to become unilateral nuclear-power enthusiasts. We should not become the political "tail" of those sections of capital interested in wind, wave, tidal, solar, hydroelectric, etc. generation and therefore intent on talking down nuclear, nor of populist fear of higher and more complex technology. We should not oppose nuclear power development, but instead demand democratic, social, and workers' control, and public ownership, over both it and all other new forms of electricity generation.
§35. New runways at Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh and Birmingham airports will double the number of flights in and out of the UK in the next 20 years. These flights will generate more greenhouse gas emissions that will further contribute to global warming. We should join campaigns to oppose the expansion of Heathrow and other UK airports, and argue for a working class based approach orientated to the labour movement and local people.
§36. Biofuels are no answer to the problem of global warming, indeed there is mounting evidence that they are accelerating climate change. The promotion by western governments of liquid biofuels (oil from crops such as palm, soya, maize etc. or ethanol which is produced by, for example, fermenting sugar cane) is not producing a sustainable alternative to burning fossil fuels. Finding the land to grow biofuel crops is causing tropical deforestation in South East Asia and South America. Tropical deforestation, as well as being a major cause of climate change, is an alarming threat to biodiversity. In addition, the burning of food products for fuel is likely to contribute to increased food prices and food shortages, precipitating famine and starvation, particularly in the third world. For these reasons, we are opposed to policies for expanding the use of biofuels. While it is worthwhile recycling used cooking oil as vehicle fuel, this constitutes a tiny proportion of fuel requirement, even a tiny proportion of the amount of biofuel which will be produced and consumed to comply with the planned biofuel targets.
The Climate Change Bill
§37. The Climate Change Bill currently going through the UK parliament is aimed at “moving the UK to a low-carbon economy”. It commits the government to targets to reduce carbon emissions over the coming period and establishes a framework for reporting on the problem.
§38. The government’s targets are too conservative and do not apply directly to industries or employers. They only cover carbon emissions rather than all greenhouse gases. Aviation and shipping are excluded, despite being the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions.
Contraction and convergence
§39. In principle we support the idea of Contraction and Convergence – that a sustainable global target figure for carbon emissions is set and that this figure is divided up between all the world’s nations according to their population. In other words, the target for per capita emissions will be the same for every country. This will place the onus to reduce emissions on the richest countries while the poorest countries (which currently have very low carbon emissions) will be able to increase emissions as they develop industry, infrastructure, public services etc. - nevertheless, we generally favour and fight for the least polluting forms of development. However, this doesn’t commit us to supporting any plan going under the name of “Contraction and Convergence” and, while we support the principle, there may be important exceptions (for example concerning differing geography between nations) which mean that sticking rigidly to a formula may not be the best way to uphold the principle. We judge any such situations concretely.
§40. The dominant ideas on the environment are often expressed in terms of “sustainable development”. In reality these ideas most often mean sustaining capitalism, with the veneer of ecological awareness. We should be sharply critical of ideas which cast a veil over the capitalist roots of climate chaos.
§41. Local communities supplied by local production is seen as more ecologically sound and provides a grounding for local action. This is equivalent to reversing the whole division of labour developed by capitalism and reverting to semi-autarkic production. This response to climate change is both utopian and reactionary and we should continue to oppose it. It may also cause unintended ecological side effects, accelerate the destruction of forests and sustainable agriculture and lead to land grabs driving peasants off their land.
§42. Nevertheless, the drive of big capitalist corporations to find the cheapest site for each phase of their production process, and to extend their reach into ever-more-widespread markets, has generated ecologically destructive "surplus" commodity-miles. A not negligible part of world trade is a matter of very similar goods, differentiated mainly by brand name, being swapped to and fro between countries thanks to the specifically-capitalist drives of the corporations behind those brand names. This is facilitated by the fact that sea freight and air freight are able to use the sea and the air as "free resources", paying no price for degrading them; are very lightly taxed; and are subject to less environmental regulation than industrial activity tied to particular places. Charges on road freight, even in Britain with its relatively high fuel taxes, are estimated to cover only about half their social and environmental costs. Democratic social planning, when it overthrows the rule of competition for private profit, will almost automatically "localise" economic activity and reduce commodity-miles to some degree; it will consciously strive to do so to a greater degree, without relapsing into illusions of autarky.
D. Existing campaigns to prevent dangerous climate change
§43. There is no single overarching campaign against climate change in the UK and not one that is widely backed by the labour movement. Rather there are a range of NGOs, coalitions and political organisations taking action on the issue.
§44. NGOs such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam all campaign on climate change, by lobbying governments, taking legal action, organising letter writing and in certain cases, through direct action and demonstrations. These NGOs operate entirely within the perspective of reforming capitalism, even when their rhetoric is sometimes anti-corporate. They do not tackle the fundamental causes of climate change nor do they look to workers to take action on climate change.
§45. Stop Climate Chaos was established as a coalition specifically to tackle climate change in 2005. It includes the major NGOs and Unison affiliated in 2006. However it is a campaign focused mainly on influencing the government and business, with no real orientation towards unions, no local groups or campaigns to participate in. It is not a vehicle for organising a mass, democratic campaign to prevent climate change.
§46. The Campaign against Climate Change (CaCC) is a loose alliance of greens with the revolutionary left. The SWP and the ISG are prominent within the CaCC. Its annual conferences attract around 400 participants and it has organised the demonstrations on climate change in London over the past two years. In February this year it organised a successful trade union conference attended by 300 people. The PCS affiliated last year and motions have been put in other unions, such as the CWU and NUT. Unison conference in 2006 passed a resolution to affiliate, but the bureaucracy refused to do so.
§47. The CaCC does blame capitalism for climate chaos and engages in direct action. Until last year it had little to say to the labour movement, but this has improved recently. It is the best vehicle to intervene in nationally and where groups exist, for branches locally. We should therefore support union affiliations to the CaCC, whilst seeking to make it more democratic, more inhabitable for workers and politically sharper.
§48. There are other campaigns against climate change, such as Rising Tide, Plane Stupid, the Climate Camp etc. We should attend their events and seek out political discussion. We are in favour of direct action on climate change – even where this might conflict with the immediate attitudes of unions in those workplaces. However we seek to build understanding with workers in those industries and challenge the idea that these workers are “part of the problem” in the struggle against climate change.
§49. Workers' Climate Action (WCA) is a promising initiative that some comrades have taken part in following the Heathrow Climate Camp. It wants to engage in direction action as well as imbue the environmental movement with a working class orientation. WCA is campaigning around workers at Heathrow airport and Kingsnorth Power Station. It aims to support workers in these workplaces develop plans to change the nature of their production that will form the basis for a progressive transition to a low-carbon society. AWL members should play a key role in WCA and help the campaign to develop.
§50. We fight for a united, militant campaign to prevent dangerous climate change. Such a campaign should orientate towards the labour movement without being bound by the trade union bureaucracy. It should consist of democratic structures, including elected and representative committees nationally and locally and fighting policies.
E. For a labour movement orientation on climate change
§51. To make the labour movement the leading agency for combating climate change involves winning wide sections of the working class to coherent ecological politics.
§52. There is a tradition of action on the environment by unions across the globe. Trade unions have long had concerns about pollution, health and safety and living conditions of working class communities.
§53. Union direct action has also been taken to protect workers and the environment. The very term "green", in politics, originates from action taken by the combative and left-wing Builders Labourers Federation in New South Wales in the early 1970s to block environmentally-destructive building projects. A combined offensive by the employers, the Maoist federal leadership of the BLF, and other union bureaucracies, destroyed the strength of the NSW BLF in 1975, but unions continue to do smaller-scale "green bans" in Australia to this day. In Britain, unions were instrumental in effectively banning the pesticide 2,4,5-T (known as Agent Orange) and to stopping the dumping of nuclear waste at sea in the 1980s. Shop stewards at Lucas aerospace developed alternative corporate plans in the late 1970s, including for fuel cells, a hybrid car and a road-rail vehicle for integrated public transport.
§54. Most international and national union federations have had policy on climate change for 20 years. In Germany, construction unions have negotiated an agreement with the government to fund energy efficiency improvements in homes. In Spain, unions have been involved in national, regional and workplace collective bargaining on climate change.
§55. We recognise that action on climate change may also cut across the immediate concerns of some unions on jobs and conditions. We fight for the bosses to pay for the transition, not workers.
§56. Capitalist consumerism, including working-class participation in capitalist consumerism, is a part of the ecological crisis. It is not ecologically possible for the entire world population to live in the manner of a relatively well-off worker in California. Socialism will, and will have to, replace the marketing-driven drive to accumulate ever more shiny gadgets with more social and human forms of enjoyment. It will go beyond the "stupidity" inculcated by capitalism, where, in Marx's words, "private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it – when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed..." Nevertheless, we cannot be flatly "anti-consumerist" either. A higher standard of living is also the process whereby the working class expands its needs, wants, horizons, ambitions, culture. Pressure to reduce working-class consumption, within capitalism, means pressure to reduce working-class self-assertion, to increase capitalist authority, to increase profits, and to increase capitalist exploitation both of humanity and of nature. Rather, the working class must "push through" capitalist consumerism to socialist ways of life.
§57. Material abundance is a precondition for the development of a fully liberated, democratic society. Current scientific research indicates that if we hold abundance to mean a global levelling up of living standards to those enjoyed by well-off Californian workers, for example, it will never be achieved. In the October 2005 edition of Monthly Review, John Bellamy-Foster cites a study by the National Academy of Sciences to the effect that "the world economy exceeded the earth's regenerative capacity in 1980 and by 1990 had gone beyond it by as much as 20 percent. This means that 'it would require 1.2 Earths, or one Earth for 1.2 years, to regenerate what humanity used
in 1999'." The implication is that to achieve a straightforward levelling up with current technology is a physical/ecological impossibility. We would quickly exhaust the planets natural capacity and bring further ecological destruction upon ourselves.
For a working class programme of action on climate change
§58. A number of widespread technical and social changes are needed to tame climate change. This means replacing fossil fuels by less-emitting forms of electricity production such as renewables; measures to economise on energy use and eliminate waste, e.g. improvement of old buildings and better design of new ones; introduction of less-emitting forms of transport to replace those based on the internal combustion engine; the readjustment of land use, e.g. reforestation; social redesign to limit the growth of transport-use by people and goods e.g. reduction of commuting.
§59. We should avoid falling into a maximum-minimum split in terms of what we advocate as a solution to climate change, i.e. advocating petty "realistic" measures for now and all-transforming socialist measures for the unspecified future, with no bridge between the two sets of measures. The maximum would be just to make propaganda saying capitalism is to blame and socialism is the answer – both true and necessary but with little direct leverage on the immediate crisis. The danger is that we appear abstract and utopian and leave the field open to reformist demands that are not effective and maybe not even desirable. There is also a lesser danger that in recognising the urgency of the problem and the need to do something, we fall into ourselves supporting such ineffective or undesirable reformist programmes.
§60. We need to develop a programme of transitional demands on climate change, stemming from today’s conditions and today’s consciousness of wide layers of the working class, and capable of mobilising and transforming the organised labour movement to fight for power. Some action by workers to change the terms of their exploitation
or to reduce it is often simultaneously the means by which carbon emissions can be reduced (e.g. shorter hours, workers’ control).
§61. We fight for trade union independence from the bosses and the government and for the development of an independent working class perspective on climate change. Concretely this means winning rank and file militants and organisations to progressive politics on climate change. It means organising workplace and industry-wide committees and caucuses that fight for action on climate change at work and in working class communities.
§62. For a 32-hour maximum working week, as a step towards a 4 day week! We fight immediately for shorter hours, longer holidays, more leisure time with no loss of pay as part of the struggle to secure the material interests of workers during any transition to a low carbon economy.
§63. Workers’ control of production! Workers’ plans are central to reducing carbon emissions at work and reasserting workers’ right to manage production in all areas of work.
§64. Workers’ control is necessary to deal with the shift from wasteful, high emission or polluting production to alternative jobs. Workers’ control is essential for protecting the interests of workers in jobs in existing, often ecologically damaging, forms of production. We fight for the labour movement and workers in the industries affected to discuss and develop ecologically friendly alternatives to existing jobs.
§65. Open the books! We fight for the right to know about real scale of workplace, industrial and employer greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, transport arrangements, waste etc.
§66. We fight for energy efficiency at work. Workplaces should be audited by union reps to determine improvements in production technologies, insulation, lighting, computer use, recycling etc. The financial gains from energy efficiency should be passed onto workers. We fight for legal rights for trade union environment reps, with powers analogous to safety reps, as part of a trade union response to climate change.
§67. For a crash programme of free insulation and other energy saving measures, starting with the social housing, the elderly and low paid workers. High quality home insulation should be made freely available to those who want it.
§68. For cheap or free public transport! We fight for integrated transport systems to provide a real alternative to the car. For safe cycle routes, separated from traffic, and subsidies to encourage cycle use. For intercity coach travel expanded and made more efficient. For dedicated coach lanes on motorways, coach stations at motorway junctions rather than city and town centres, linked with local public transport services. For an immediate programme of building high speed rail links. For the renationalisation of rail and bus services.
§69. We fight for a moratorium on road building and on airport expansion, and for an expansion of cheap rail transport. For a workers’ enquiry into transport, including domestic flights.
§70. Changes in ways of living and levels of consumption are required, particularly in the advanced countries. All sorts of possibilities exist for changing the way people live – for example, creating communal and local facilities such as laundries or childcare, which reduce the need for transport and avoid the unnecessary duplication of consumer durables. The question is not whether a means can be found to avoid this but rather the class issue of who pays.
§71. For public ownership of supermarkets and agriculture. Half a dozen supermarkets dominate the food retail sector. The food industry, from production to retail, is a major contributor to carbon emissions. Supermarkets are extremely wasteful of energy in heating, lighting and refrigeration as well as the over-packaging of food. Wasteful competition in agriculture adds massively to the energy used in transporting and storing food as well as in agricultural techniques (e.g. heating polytunnels). Democratic workers’ control would provide the basis for tackling these problems. It would also facilitate a serious collective response to the problem of nutritionally poor modern western diets which, apart from damaging human health, tend to be the most carbon-emitting.
§72. Massive public investment is a pre-condition for changing present behaviour. For expropriation and social ownership and direction of the big financial institutions which at present dominate the allocations of credit and investment. Immediately there needs to be R&D and the development of renewable energy and low emissions technology; investment in public transport, expanding rail, bus, coach, tram, light rail and underground networks; and investment in public housing, built to high, energy-efficient standards.
§73. For public ownership of the energy and transport industries! The privatisation of energy and transport industries over the past 25 years has only benefited the bosses and their lackeys, at the expense of job losses and worse conditions for workers and a worse service for the public. Privately run energy and transport makes the fight to reduce carbon emissions harder. We therefore demand that these firms brought under public ownership and workers’ control.
§74. We demand the imposition of high standards of building regulation and minimum fuel consumption requirements on all cars and lorries with improvements, modifications and substitutes to existing vehicles paid for by the big auto firms. We demand stricter regulation of all forms of industrial pollution and stiffer enforcement and penalties against corporate polluters. We want to redesign towns, cities, and urban/industrial networks to improve the environment.
§75. For international solidarity! For an international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions, with the most drastic reductions made by the richest countries. Cancel the debts and remove the trade restrictions on countries that already suffer the effects of dangerous climate change. For subsidies to stop the destruction of the rain forests and to support reforestation. For the massive transfer of wealth to the poorest people of the world to improve their living standards and to help them protect their own environment.
§76. For a workers’ government, and a world federation of workers' governments! The fight against climate change must be advanced now under capitalism. But a lasting and socially just transition requires the overthrow of capitalist government and the rule of the working class, indeed the rule of the working class on a world scale. We fight to build working class parties with the politics, outlook and mass basis in the working class to lead the fight for socialism.