Climate change activist: "This pamphlet helped me understand how socialism can drive change"

Submitted by Janet on 3 July, 2019 - 12:46 Author: Janet Burstall

Daisy Thomas, who recently became a climate change activist in Brisbane, discussed the Workers’ Liberty pamphlet For workers’ climate action with Janet Burstall.

I was aware of socialism as an idea. This pamphlet gave me more understanding of how socialism can be used as a driver for change. It made me realise the importance of tapping into workers as a social mobilisation force that can be part of their own solution, including in fossil fuel industries that are going to be phased out. I’ve also started reading a book on the Green Bans.

The opening article by Neil Laker is persuasive, it sets out the issues. I hadn’t known before about workers’ action for climate justice and the occupation of coalmines in Germany explained in the second article. The review of Malm’s book Fossil capital about the rise of steam power seemed to be too far back, and disconnected from what’s happening now. The book Burning up by Pirani seemed more relevant, with the reviewer discussing the reasons for growth in fossil fuel consumption and the impact of privatisation. I agree that the corporate bottom line means there is not much disincentive for corporations that are increasing their carbon emissions, and that it is the disadvantaged who are affected by climate change, whether by providing their labour or living in poor countries, and the Pacific Islands.

Some of the challenges for workers action on climate change include the private ownership of the energy companies, that where capitalist bosses are after profit they’ll oppose any movement or efforts at sustainability that threatens profits. A challenge is to get through to workers, to help them see beyond the short term needs of their families, that everyone is at risk from climate change in the long run, and to cut through the lies.

One of the main ideas I got from the pamphlet is that workers could be strategic ecological actors, forming a democratic collectivist movement that takes action, such as strikes and occupations. I read the point about having workplace representatives active on environmental issues in the review of Paul Hampton’s book. In my own way, I am active at work encouraging people to reduce waste and to recycle, which I know is kind of low level.

I support all the Workers' Liberty proposals for the British Labour Party conference, including a national strategy, nationalisation of energy, expanded public transport, and energy efficient housing combined with ending fossil fuel extraction and airport expansions. A national strategy like this is important because it shows both sides of the action we need, ramping up renewables and stopping fossil fuel extraction. Only in an ideal world could we stop all coal now, so looking at alternate sources of energy can help the transition.

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