Climate: break the rule of profit

Submitted by martin on 10 August, 2021 - 6:00 Author: Editorial
Capitalism and climate change

Amid a summer of worldwide climate breakdown, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - described as “a code red for humanity” by the head of the UN – lays out unequivocally how greenhouse gas emissions are driving increasingly dire climate crises, and a range of “possible climate futures”. How do we win the future we need?

Banks and the rich fund oil, gas, coal development, and polluting businesses, pouring rivers of money into enterprises destroying the planet – simply to make money.

The wealth produced by workers but controlled by bosses needs to be seized back, to be used to deploy green technologies, so we can continue to have a decent standard of living without destroying the planet.

Workers and scientists in polluting industries should be retrained: their skills, knowledge, and machinery can be repurposed to efficient electric public transport, sustainable energy production, adaptation to already-locked-in climate change, and much more.

Humanity is capable of great innovation and creativity, but society’s resources are tied up by a parasitic minority – the ruling class - who are ruining the world.

They will not willingly hand over these resources. History has shown this over and over again. In the environment, we have seen rate of emissions not only fail to fall, but to continue to increase, at an every-growing rate!

Workers need to work together to demand – and win - changes. Trade unions must represent workers collectively to demand control over production. Environmental demands must be fought for through industrial action.

Capitalists chase short-term profits: workers must look to the long term. This cannot be left to union leaders, who time and again sell us out, but needs to be initiated by rank and file workers in the workplace.

On 9 August, as the IPCC published its latest report, wildfires were turning swathes of Greece and California to hell on earth; Central Europe was reeling after huge floods.

The IPCC concludes that every part of our planet - already around 1°C hotter than pre-industrial levels - is feeling the effects of climate change. Even bigger, irreversible, and escalating changes will be triggered - unless policies are changed fast and dramatically.

Yet, instead of the radical action needed, we are seeing a “fossil-fuel reboot” from Covid slump, and continued deforestation.

Leaders of the world’s governments will probably repeat the same old message at the COP26 conference in November: there must be targets, carbon trading, and aid so poorer countries comply.

Such measures have – time and time again - had negligible effect in slowing climate change and pollution. Capitalist pursuit of short-term profit, and the big money in fossil fuels, scuppers meaningful action.

Covid-19 was also predictable. But governments internationally ignored pandemic-warnings for decades, or let preparations fade until too late - at huge cost to lives and economic activity.

Environmental activists must work to transform the workers’ movement into one with the ideas and power to remake society on an ecological basis. We must work with and support workers to raise environmental demands in their union, in their own industries, and in the Labour Party.

The environmental and labour movements must fight to expropriate the banks and high finance, and to take the big energy companies, transport, and industry into democratic public ownership. This wealth and working-class control will allow as fast as possible a transition, phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them with green industry and technology - scientific research, development, green energy, public transport, well-built housing, repurposing of aircraft and car factories.

And a vast transfer of wealth and technology to the Global South for social and environmental ends, while opening the borders to climate (and all) migrants.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.