Our candidate for Oxford East, Kevin Parkin, has received the following enquiry as to our policy on climate change:
“To have some chance of keeping future climate change from moving into unknown and possibly catastrophic levels, climate scientists agree that global temperature increase must be restricted to below 2˚ C. Accordingly, at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, 167 of the world’s governments – representing countries responsible for 87% of carbon emissions and including our own – subscribed to that figure. To keep within that limit, it is calculated that the world can afford to pump only one trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – that is the total global carbon budget. It doesn’t matter exactly when this is done but the limit must not be exceeded. This in turn means leaving 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
On behalf of Low Carbon Headington, Low Carbon South Oxford and Global Justice Oxford, we are writing to all prospective parliamentary candidates to ask the following:
• Does your party accept the need to leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground?
• Which of your party’s policies will ensure the rise in global temperatures is restricted to below 2˚C and how will they achieve this level?
• What is your personal commitment to ensuring these limits are adhered to?”
We have replied:
The Socialist Party accepts that global warming is slowly taking place and that the past and present release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible. So, yes, there is a need to cut back on this by employing alternative methods of generating energy.
As this is a global problem, to deal with it requires co-ordinated action on a world scale but this is proving impossible under capitalism because of vested commercial interests and the security of energy supply considerations of the various competing states into which the world is divided.
As Naomi Klein has pointed out in her recent book ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate’, it is the capitalist system of production for profit by competing enterprises that is responsible both for the existence of the problem and for impeding effective action to deal with it. Some timid and wholly inadequate measures may be agreed at international level but that’s the most that will happen under capitalism, as we explain in this article “Too Little, Too Late”:
This is why we say that the only framework within which the problem can be rationally and lastingly dealt with is where the Earth’s natural and industrial resources have become the common heritage of all humanity. To make this point, and to encourage action to bring about such a world, is one of the reasons why we are standing in this election.
We have no specific policies for dealing with the problem within capitalism. In fact we think this is a waste of valuable time – fiddling while Rome burns – as the problem continues and gets worse. We know that the scientific knowledge and the technological ability to deal effectively with the problem exist and are confident that they would be rapidly applied once world capitalism has been replaced by a world of common ownership, democratic control and production directly for use not profit.
Naomi Klein’s book is reviewed in the current (February) edition of our magazine here:
The Socialist Party Candidates
Steve Colborn - Easington; Robert Cox – Canterbury; Mike Foster - Oxford West and Abingdon; Brian Johnson - Swansea West; Danny Lambert - Vauxhall; Bill Martin - Islington North; Kevin Parkin - Oxford East; Howard Pilott - Brighton Pavilion; Jacqueline Shodeke - Brighton Kemptown; Andy Thomas - Folkestone and Hythe.