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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 December 2008

Our planet not their profit

Climate change demo December 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

Climate change demo December 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

Everyone on the march against climate change on Saturday 6 December agrees on one thing: the planet is in danger.

Paula Mitchell

Climate scientists argue that critical processes, such as the melting of polar sea ice, are happening much faster than previously predicted. Inspired by the election of Barack Obama and his proposed plans for the environment, the march will demand a 'Green New Deal' - a state-funded package of environmental works designed to develop renewable energy technologies and create jobs.

It is right to march to put demands on the government. Mass pressure can force even the most reluctant governments to take steps. But there is also an opportunity and a necessity to debate how a Green New Deal can really be achieved, both to deal with the current economic crisis and to guarantee a habitable planet in the future. And to debate who can do it.

There will be speakers from New Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Every one of the mainstream political parties defends the current profit system, which puts the needs of big business before the needs of ordinary people and the planet.

Even George Monbiot, the chair of the Campaign against Climate Change, rejects socialism and believes it is possible to bring about green capitalism (see his book Age of Consent). He currently argues that environmentalists should not espouse or reject any one form of energy technology (even nuclear), but should demand a maximum level for the carbon dioxide produced, impose a number of other public safety measures, then allow the energy companies to find the cheapest means of delivering it (Guardian August 2008). Those very same energy companies who make enormous profits while our bills go up and up!

The pursuit of profit by big business, bankers and hedge fund managers has brought the world economy into an historic economic crisis. If it was possible to turn this capitalist system into one that cares for the environment, why has it so completely failed to implement even the limited aims of the Kyoto Treaty in reducing greenhouse gases?

How can we now imagine that the capitalists will suddenly put the interests of the environment before their own short-term gains? Already politicians are questioning whether it is possible to stick to existing green policies during a recession.

Some on the march will hope that this major economic crisis will alleviate the problems of global warming by reducing industrial output. While this may have some effect, no one should view an economic crisis on this scale as a good thing.

Millions of working and poor people across the world are already paying for this crisis, losing their jobs and homes and facing food shortages. The very people who pay the highest price for climate change will pay the highest price in the economic crisis too.

Socialist alternative needed

We cannot put our faith in the mainstream politicians. The battle to save the planet has some similarities with the massive international campaign to Make Poverty History three years ago. Despite the promises of capitalist governments at the time, world poverty is more deeply entrenched than ever while the super-rich have got richer.

We can only have faith in ourselves - in the mass of working class, young and poor people across the world. Democratic ownership and control of the world's resources would enable us to plan the use of those resources for the benefit of all.

The end of the profit system and replacing it with a socialist plan would not only mean ending constant boom and bust, but it would also enable a genuine Green New Deal. Measures such as a massive investment in renewable energy and a democratically planned public transport system could create millions of 'green jobs' and open up a sustainable economic future too.

Campaign against climate change march

Saturday 6 December,

Assemble 12 noon,

Grosvenor Square, London.

Contact Neil on 077 689 509 57 for details of how to meet up with Socialist Party members on the march and about Socialist Party meetings on this issue in London.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 3 December 2008:

Job losses

Fight back now against job cuts

Woolworths jobs threat

Fighting the threatened closure of Hoover factory

Environment and socialism

Our planet not their profit

Socialist Party editorial

India and Pakistan conflict

Terror mayhem strikes Mumbai

Socialist Party campaigns

Judiciary challenged over the right to protest

Building a left wing political alternative

Southampton uni students fight fees

Liverpool: mobilising against the far right

In brief


Social workers demand proper resources

Secondary education: PFI's gloss soon peels away

Socialist Party LGBT

Fighting homophobia

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Crisis-hit capitalism fears prospect of revolution

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela elections: Chávez wins victory but opposition gains ground

Marxist analysis: history

The Isle of Man general strike 1918: Workers' power paralysed government

Socialist Party news and analysis

Help fund the alternative to big business politics

Socialist women: Looking at the past to take action today

Housing crisis

Stop the repossessions

New Labour's housing crisis

Socialist Party workplace news

Vote 'no' to BT's pension cuts

A Christmas message from the Unite leadership

Dover docks strikes

Appledore shipyard


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