The capitalist world is being shaken by the most profound economic disruptions, a global pandemic and the growing crises caused by global warming. Around the world, governments are spending hundreds of billions to protect profits but only pennies on reducing carbon emissions. All previous COPs have been nothing short of disasters, so why would we expect the upcoming Glasgow COP26 to be any different.
Paralysed by policy inertia and beholden to vested interests, too many are unable to join up the dots and solve the connected crises of environment leaving the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth paying the highest price. Climate change summits have increasingly failed to offer concrete solutions which has devastating consequences for millions of people. Despite many fine words politicians have made no difference to the world’s worsening environmental situation. Climate conferences have invariably been ineffectual. Floods, storms, drought and forest fires are already claiming victims around the globe.
The World Socialist Movement say the reasons for this are rooted in the economic system, an exploitative, destructive market system, that cannot be relied upon to abolish the conditions which endanger our well-being and survival. We view the continual process of international conferences as pointless. Governments and corporations are only committed to finding environmental market-friendly solutions which still maintain investment“ growth.” Politicians side with the bankers and businessmen to create a green capitalist economy concentrating upon assigning prices to carbon, for financial centres to trade in carbon credits which are supposed to encourage a reduction in CO2 emissions such as by paying for the planting of trees as compensation for polluting the air, all at the whim of the market.
We in the WSM speak of the failed world system of capitalism that generates the ecological crises which threatens to bring the extinction to many animal species and perhaps the end of human civilisation as we know it where many will become climate refugees with literally nowhere to run.
Many campaigners in the environment movement may agree with the WSM’s scepticism that the world leaders have utterly failed in achieving action on climate change but they must go one step further and acknowledge the problems is rooted in an economic system that can only see the natural world as a source of materials for the production process, or a land-fill for its waste. A socialist critique of environmental destruction must also accept ending the production for profit, private property system and understand that the continuance of capitalism can only lead to further environmental harm and damage. Environmental activists need to reject the false solutions of green capitalism.
As Marx explained:
“a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries, [beneficiaries] and, like boni patres familias ,[good heads of households] they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.”
The socialist vision is one of a self-administered economy where a variety of inter-locked democratic bodies (whose officials are elected and subject to recall) at the local, regional and worldwide levels with delegates from both factories and neighbourhoods where decisions will be taken at the level at which they can most easily be implemented. And they should be taken at the level where the greatest percentage of people actually affected by them can be involved in the decision-making process. Such a inter-connected network would be empowered to draw up the basic outlines of the economic and environment plans and have the ability to implement them. Redirecting the productive capacity to human needs will require a variety of economic methods and experiments. There could be a combination of central planning (not centralised planning such as the command economies of the former state-capitalist countries), and local coordination. Rational planning will replace anarchy. Coordination and planning of production will aim at building an economy that will benefit the people.
Some critics of the WSM proposition of free access based on material abundance so to end scarcity would place an unbearable strain on the physical resources of the planet and lead to an ecological problems. The WSM points to the scale of socially wasted resources under capitalism. The abolition of the military and the accompanying arms industry alone would free up tremendous resources for socially useful production built upon renewable energy sources, and environmentally safe technologies, etc. that could provide an adequate standard of living for the bulk of the world’s population without imposing new demands upon the capacities of the earth. Factories and other productive facilities will be modernised to eliminate backbreaking labour and ecological damage.