Halting Climate Change Means Changing the System

Global warming is a scientific fact. The big debate now is about its effects. How long will it be before it becomes an actual threat to the planet’s survival, and how severe will its effects be in the next few decades? Even the most optimistic experts think there will be drastic consequences within twenty years. We will not only have more hurricanes and typhoons, but also increased desertification at one end of the scale and massive sea rises swamping coastal cities around the world at the other.

Why have They Failed to Tackle Climate Change

In the face of this threat the efforts of our rulers have been pathetic. The one international attempt to limit climate change and greenhouse gas emissions was that of Kyoto in 1992. It only came into effect in 2005, by which time greenhouse gas emissions had risen by 15%. It was never signed by the world’s biggest polluter, the USA, which now accounts for 28% of all CO2 emissions. Instead its emissions rose by 16% between 1992 and 2002. And countries like China, whose emissions rose 37% in the same period, see no reason why they should now reduce pollution when the richer countries do not.

This failure to tackle the issue is no accident. It is a product of the capitalist system itself. Capitalism is driven by profit and the constant tendency for the rate of profit to fall can only be offset by producing more. Capitalism “must expand or die” (Marx). Capitalism production does not exist in harmony with nature. It treats the world as a source of raw materials to be exploited ruthlessly for profit. The continual economic growth for which capitalism strives demands ever more energy and more raw materials. The result of this is an increase in greenhouse gases. Capitalist competition means that no state will make any real attempt to cut its emissions if this is going to reduce profits.

Instead we are given a load of cons. Carbon trading only allows big polluters to avoid the issue. Re-using our shopping bags might make us feel good but makes a minimal impact on the real problem. Putting on green taxes won’t affect the rich but it

will lower the living standards of ordinary workers. Even Virgin Airlines tycoon, Branson’s promise to put £1.4 billion into a fund to combat global warning turns out only to be a tax avoidance scam. Indeed the only people on the planet who are carbon free are the very poorest who live in the shanty towns on top of rubbish heaps. For them recycling is essential to survive in a system that reduces them to utter destitution. The whole system is based on stimulating consumption for the spurious needs of the richest countries’ consumers instead of meeting the real needs of all the population of the planet. The issue of the growing gap between rich and poor is intimately linked to combating climate change. To fight one we have to fight the other. This means fighting the system that produces both increasing poverty and excessive greenhouse gases.

How Can We Really Face Up to Climate Change?

Despite all the evidence that it is the capitalist system and its life and death struggle for profits which is behind the destruction of the environment most eco-warriors still hope to be able to get the capitalist tanker to turn before it hits the rocks. They need to ask themselves how this can be done when the forces of the environment continue to operate. Today’s eco-warriors are only fighting the effects of capitalism’s in-built laws they are not fighting those laws themselves. The only sustainable way to save the planet is to destroy the system before it destroys us. The only system that can save the world is communism. By this we do not mean the system that collapsed in the Soviet Union (which was a centralised variant of state controlled capitalism). Communism is the “movement

of the immense majority for the immense majority” (Marx). It will be the firstly truly global system which will be a voluntary

community of producers. Waste production and the planned obsolescence of goods (so that more energy has to be used to produce more) will be a thing of the past and the basic right of all human beings to decent food, clothing and shelter will be assured above all. It will have no need of national frontiers, standing armies or huge bureaucracies. It will be the ultimate collective society in which a sensible discussion of the needs of humanity and the planet it occupies can be rationally dealt with.

Such a society has to be fought for. It has to be based on the unity of as much of the world working class as possible around a political body to spearhead the assault on capitalism. It can only be victorious when the world working class en masse take on the task of smashing the system. On the social as on the ecological front the choice is now stark. Communism or ruin is the alternative now facing humanity. Join us in the fight to avoid the latter.


Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.