Sunday, December 15, 2019


Talks on climate in Madrid’s COP25 has collapsed and have effectively been postponed until COP26 in Glasgow in 2020. Attempts to tackle climate change within the context of the world market economy will, at best, achieve only limited results. Can we afford to wait? The answer of course, is no. We may well ask that if the Madrid summit resulted in failure then what future for planet Earth? 

Environmental groups can no longer trust in the empty promises from politicians on behalf of financiers and capitalists. Profit and capital accumulation is in fact the biggest stumbling block encountered by delegates at Earth summits and the Socialist Party has wasted no time in exposing similar summits in the past as the farces they are. Representatives of all the world’s capitalist states failed to agree on any effective action to cut back the emission of greenhouse gases—because the required measures would have undermined the competitiveness of some to the advantage of others. Capitalism simply does not provide a world framework for the rational solution of the problem of global warming. Attempts made by world governments to respond to this issue have been ineffectual in the extreme. This is due to the impact that any effective response would have on profits and international competitiveness. Attempts to halt the massive emission of greenhouse gases in the hope of preventing a possible global warming have resulted in negligible success, mainly due to capitalism’s higher priority—profit.

The record of climate conferences can be summed up in four words: high hopes, little result. Any optimism raised soon fades away. Any agreement being reached has been  inadequate and ineffective compromises between rival capitalist states, full of concessions, loopholes and get-out clauses to protect vested interests. Far from being solved, the climate crisis keeps on growing, global warming continues rising. At Madrid, the wealthier nations reneged on their promises to provide financial assistance to help poorer ones. Aid has not materialised and future pledges again fall short.

The idea of a world-wide coordination to deal with global  problems is not wrong in principle. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is a recognition that problems such as environmental emergency along with world hunger, poverty and ill-health can only be tackled by action on a world-scale. Clearly, climate change is a world problem and as such can only be tackled at world level. The problem is that under capitalism, with its built-in competitive struggle between national and commercial rivals for profits, the necessary unity of purpose and co-operative action is impossible to reconcile. Under capitalism the most that can possibly emerge from such meetings are trade-offs between contesting sectional interests. Instead of countries collaborating to reduce carbon emissions, they have sought to gain advantages for their own industries. The chances of the major nations reaching a consensus on an adequate and binding programme is practically nil.

Some environment campaigners have proposed, if not a world capitalist government, at least some world body with real powers to coordinate a response. Now, all they can come up with is to rely on the stock-market and financial institutions to resolve the problem. If thats all capitalism can offer, then, in the words of Private Fraser, we are doomed  unless, that is, we establish world socialism.

Come Glasgow 2020 the King Canutes of capitalism will still be trying to hold back the waves with empty gestures.


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