Monday, December 02, 2019

Our Answer to the Climate Emergency

“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general has warned. “It is in sight and hurtling towards us.” He also branded global efforts to combat climate change “utterly inadequate.” He denounced policymakers’ lacklustre response in the face of a “global climate emergency”. Guterres said that for the leaders of all countries to show “anything less” than accountability and responsibility, and a willingness to commit to ambitious targets “would be a betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come”. 

The Socialist Party, however, accuses the UN leader of being equally complicit in this betrayal. His "solution" to the climate crisis comes up short. More and more cities, financial institutions and businesses are committing to a 1.5C pathway…what is still lacking is political will. Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon. Taxing pollution instead of people.”

No, Antonio, adjusting the capitalist market is not a fix. Yes, we require political will - but it is the political determination to change our entire economic system to protect the planet and its people. Relying on capitalism, Secretary General, will not save the world, and nor will appointing the former Bank of England governor as the UN's climate action special envoy. Is putting the fox in the hen-house really going to help?

Save the Children warns 33 million African children are facing hunger as a result of cyclones and droughts made more likely by climate change. The Alliance of Small Island States, representing nations most at risk from rising seas, views the Madrid talks as the last chance to avert potential “catastrophe.” Last week, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation warned the level of greenhouse gases had reached another all-time high, “with no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline”.

The Socialist Party has a different approach as also expressed by an article from the New Internationalist, which has a different story to tell. It reminds us that by unlocking the carbon in fossil fuels by mining it, burning it and releasing it as active carbon it disrupts the balance of carbon in air, soil and seas. What is needed to address the problem of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to reduce the amount of carbon released. Oliver Rackham, a Cambridge University botanist and landscape historian is quoted thus, “Telling people to plant trees (to solve climate change) is like telling them to drink more water to keep down rising sea levels.” Adam Ma’anit, the author of the article, gets to grips with reality and shows offsetting for what it is – companies being formed to take advantage of the gullible consumer, established companies jumping on the bandwagon to increase their share of the market and the misinformed punter alleviating their guilt whilst doing nothing to actually cut carbon emissions. Adam Ma’anit: “Climate change is an issue we shouldn’t be ‘neutral’ on. Carbon offsets are at best a distraction and at worst a grandiose carbon laundering scheme.” And, “The solution to climate change is social change.”

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