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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 November 2007

Green activists seek solutions

LAST WEEK 700 people, mainly environmental activists, met to build support for the 8 December Climate Change demonstration. The speakers included campaigner and environmental writer George Monbiot and speakers from Greenpeace International, the Climate Change Campaign and an organiser from last summer's Climate Camp at Heathrow.

Pete Dickenson

All exposed the role of multinational firms like Shell in degrading the environment and highlighted the catastrophe looming over us due to global warming.

Sophie from the Climate Camp showed how after Hurricane Katrina, the poor, those most affected by climate change, got the least government help. She also thought the Kyoto process to reduce greenhouse gases had degenerated into a money-making opportunity for speculators.

George Monbiot said that new data claims the situation is worse than previously thought, quoting evidence from the scientific journal Geo-physical Research Papers which suggested we must now reduce carbon emissions by 100%, not the 60% figure he had previously used and the figure quoted by the government.

A Labour insider had told him they knew their information was outdated for four years but kept quiet because the employers' organisation the Confederation of British Industry would have objected to any policy change.

He also put the position (long advocated in the socialist), that rather than cutting consumption to preserve the environment, we must look to substituting polluting technologies with sustainable ones.

Monbiot explicitly blamed the capitalist system for environmental problems due to its need for continuous growth. He called privatisation unhelpful for solving ecological problems and advocated, albeit limited, nationalisation of the energy sector.

However, he thought replacing capitalism would be a long-term undertaking, whereas action needs to be taken now to tackle global warming, so some other approach is needed in the short run.

He said he supported internationally applied, mandatory enforceable ceilings on carbon emissions. If this was George Monbiot's alternative, the big question is how, in the framework of a rapacious antagonistic market system, such ceilings could be enforced when the much more market-friendly Kyoto process proves impotent.

Nevertheless, Monbiot clearly understands the urgency of the situation and seems to be searching for a new way forward.

  • Pete Dickenson will be debating Socialist planning could it save the planet? - with Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones at Socialism 2007 on Saturday 17 November from 3pm to 5pm at ULU Malet Street, London.
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    In The Socialist 14 November 2007:

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