Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/559/6675
Our planet not their profit
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.
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.
In The Socialist 3 December 2008:
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party LGBT
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news