Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/461/1686
Capitalism is killing the planet...
Fight for socialism!
FROM NOVEMBER 6-17 countries will meet in Nairobi (Kenya) in UN sponsored talks on climate change. On the weekend before the talks thousands of demonstrators will gather in cities around the world, including London, to protest at the lack of action on global warming.
Dave Nellist Coventry Socialist Party councillor
One week before the conference Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have welcomed a major new report on climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank. The Stern Review is the most recent compilation of scientific evidence that the growing concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, will, unless checked, have devastating consequences for all humankind.
The report lists increasing flood risk from melting glaciers, up to 200 million refugees from rising sea levels, declining yields from agriculture, increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather, and up to 40% of species facing extinction - all as direct and short-term consequences of rising global temperature. Many of its conclusions have been mainstream scientific thinking for a decade or more
If business carries an 'as usual' the report predicts temperature rises could lead to global economic output falling by 20%. In a tiny moment of clarity, Stern writes, "climate change... is the greatest and widest ranging market failure ever seen"
However, the moment doesn't last long. The report sticks strictly to big business solutions - incentives for companies and taxes for the rest of us. All the big three parties, New Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrats now talk of so-called "green taxes". Green taxes seem fair - making the polluter pay. But the bulk of green taxes are aimed at ordinary working people and their families - the rich can always escape the consequences of a tax.
Just take, for one example, the massive expansion of air travel, which for some is the first target for green taxes. Raising taxes on travel would not stop the rich travelling the world but would hit working people disproportionately.
As Jim Hensman explains in our centre page special feature, the socialist solution is to argue instead for a massive expansion of a high-speed train network (powered by renewable sources of energy), integrated with other forms of public transport. This could only be achieved by national and international planning, the key to which is public ownership and democratic control of the transport system - putting the needs of people before the profits of billionaires like Richard Branson.
No main party stands for such a programme. That's why the Socialist Party puts environmental issues, alongside public ownership and planning, at the top of its agenda for the building of a mass socialist alternative to the three big business parties.
Global warming really is "the greatest failure of the market system". We cannot afford to let that same market system dictate the pace and extent of the response to the crisis. Join the fight for a socialist alternative.
In The Socialist 2 November 2006:
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
The Socialist Interview