Monday, December 16, 2019

Capitalism Cannot Deliver

"The can-do spirit that birthed the Paris Agreement feels like a distant memory today," said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics at the World Resources Institute. "Instead of leading the charge for greater ambition, most major emitters have been missing in action."

 Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, told DW. "Governments of the world have come into these halls and failed to stand up for the demands that their people have made in the streets for action on climate change."

Representatives from almost 200 nations took part in the talks in Madrid. They aimed to finish a set of guidelines that will be used to implement the Paris Agreement from next year. They failed. Many of the delegates at Madrid’s COP25 expressed their disappointment and frustration at the weakening of text referring to emission reduction targets, which they said would lead to a lack of ambition. Key decisions were postponed to a future date.

The Socialist Party isn’t surprised. We determined that the discord was all very predictable. Capitalism cannot deliver solutions to the climate crisis. Disagreements and vague patched-together communiques are now typical of climate change gatherings. One obvious reason why it difficult to solve such problems is that there is no clear consensus among them regarding what the appropriate actions to take should be, and this reflects the different and often directly opposed interests and standpoints of their respective nations. There are differences between “rich” and “poor” nations regarding how to counter global warming, and the role that each nation must play, there are stark differences in the standpoints of the nations regarding this issue, not to mention the political divisions within each nation.Not surprisingly, each government has sought to frame the problem in a manner that lays the maximum blame on others.

The Socialist Party does not suggest that global-warming and CO2 emissions can be solved if only there was a clear consensus among governments and sufficient political will. Every vote-seeking politician in the world waxes eloquent about the urgent need for a curb on carbon emissions, addressing conferences about their deep concern for the planet’s future. Behind the scenes, however, lies a more pressing problem – how to compete against international rivals in obtaining a larger share of the profits. The real issue is that governments (with the tepid backing of their electorate) try to solve problems that derive directly from the social system (capitalism) that they are paid to serve and protect. They are indeed servants, rather than masters, of the capitalist system. In other words, the reason politicians are unable to reach agreement on solutions is not that they are short-sighted or stupid (although many are) but that they are reticent to pursue the root causes of problems if it calls into question the capitalist system and it is not at all difficult to trace the consequences of a system of production for profit to the whole range of environmental problems. Capitalism is all about capital accumulation and the insatiable pursuit of profit is naturally accompanied by tremendous waste and destruction. If there are profits to be gained, capitalists are not too bothered by the long-term, or even short-term, detrimental effects for other people or future generations. Politician and CEOs lecture about the need to address environmental problems, while turning a blind eye to the role played by this rapacious system of capital accumulation. For many national governments (such as Poland’s coal-powered energy) to tackle climate change could be economic suicide. No answer to our climate emergency is possible without fundamentally calling into question an exchange economy that revolves around prices, pounds and pence. As Marx pointed out we live in “a state of society, in which the process of production has the mastery over man, instead of being controlled by him” (Capital vol. 1). No business can be free from market forces and so are powerless regardless of any good intent it may possess to place the welfare of the people and planet before its pursuit of profit. Be warned that environmental concerns cannot be high on the capitalist agenda, for it is the priority under capitalism to make a profit by exploiting the environment through those market forces.

The choice is ours. Shall we say enough is enough and join together to work together to replace capitalism because with capitalism, in the battle between pollution or more profits there can be only one winner.

No comments: