Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared a "climate emergency". The SNP leader told conference delegates in Edinburgh she was inspired after meeting young climate campaigners who had gone on strike from school. Sturgeon said "they are right", and pledged to "live up to our responsibility" to halt climate change. The Labour Party is also expected to declare a national climate emergency on Wednesday. They will call for a dramatic cut in the UK's carbon emissions. Dozens of towns and cities across the UK have already declared "a climate emergency". There is no single definition of what that means.
Every day we feel the effects of climate change—a crisis we did little to create. Today, the people of the world are saying ‘enough is enough’. Governments and corporations and agencies promising modest "changes" and "goals" 10, 20, 50 years from now....and we are accepting it. The ship is sinking fast and the captain is promising to start bailing out water with ladles. Too often the Socialist Party has been accused for only opposing and not proposing. That has never been a valid criticism. Today’s need is not another centralised global institution, but the de-concentration and de-centralisation of decision-making power, and the creation of a pluralistic system of organisations interacting with one another, guided by broad and flexible agreements and understandings. We are not talking about something completely new. The Socialist Party has tried to show that workers everywhere have an underlying common interest around which to unite and it is the capitalists who cannot overcome their divisions. An enormous hatred is growing against the many horrors of capitalism. Industrial pollution and ecological damage have provoked resistance in various countries. That hatred has to be turned into dedication to overthrow the entire capitalist system.
The threat to the environment, a direct result of capital’s uncontrolled expansion, can be answered only by the collective action of humanity as a whole. Extinction Rebellion and the school strikers have done vital work in drawing attention to environmental issues.
However, they only too often offer the wrong answers to the very questions they ask about the environment. Its solution lies on the plane of rational and humane, that is to say, wise organisation, both of production itself and care for nature, not just by individuals, enterprises or countries, but by all humanity, linked with a clear awareness of our planetary responsibility for the ecological consequences of civilisation.
Politicians and corporations of all hues now declare their commitment to do something about climate change as an emergency and believe it or not but some of those who run world capitalism actually understand that the environment on which their system depends is in danger of disintegrating within a generation or two. Governments and businesses have a genuine interest in slowing down climate change, much the same as their predecessors had a genuine interest in eliminating the smog from the slums. But they cannot achieve their goal without slowing down the momentum of capital accumulation, the very basis of their system. It is precisely because this is a global problem that those who support the system find it difficult to deal with.
Capitalism is in the process of destroying all our futures. The environmental activists see climate change as the issue that overshadows all others. Everything else has to be subordinated to building a campaign such as has never been seen before in an effort to force governments and firms to take the necessary action. They are raising much-needed awareness of what is happening. But campaigns focused purely on climate change will not be the answer to the problem for deep-seated change is required. They counsel us that we can compel the governments to implement mitigating measures. But politicians end up tailoring their demands to what they think can be achieved without too great a disturbance to the present system. So they lobby for countries to sign up to various ‘practical’ agreements such as carbon taxes on the grounds that ‘at least it is a start’. But let’s be honest, corporations that are expert at cheating taxes by use of tax havens and who place pollution-measuring avoidance computer chips in their cars will easily find ways to fiddle their emissions by carbon trading. The capitalist system depends for its existence on continued expansion and accumulation, and any serious and effective solution to climate change is going to open enormous fissures within the system. Are we to imagine the ruling class will sacrifice their interests for the rest of us? There have been previous instances of civilisations collapsing due to ecological devastation as did the Maya civilisation. Capitalists and states will react to the need to do something about global warming by price and tax measures that will inevitably hit the living standards of the poor.
The only sure protection against climate change is the replacement of a society based on accumulation for profit with one based on production for need. There is but one way to reverse climate change. That is through challenging and ending capitalism as a whole.
The people of the world must organise ourselves to take action and that action has to be the creation of a society where it is not corporation bank balances that count but peoples’ needs come first. If humanity is to survive the climate change that we have created, we must start caring about everyone! The blindly pro-business attitude of the supposed ‘solutions’ seeing all environmental policies as "a burden" that needs to be "minimised" spells doom. Doom for the planet. Doom for the life-sustaining eco-systems we all depend on. Doom for the people of the Earth. Doom for a possible future human society that could truly benefit all.
There's work to do – let’s establish socialism before it is too late.
Act Today to Save Tomorrow