Archive article from The Socialist Issue 499
Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/2007/499/np1773.htm
Stop climate change
Socialist alternative needed
HURRICANES HAVE hit the Caribbean, large areas of the UK and Asia are recovering from floods, southern Europe suffers drought; so how can we save the environment?
Ben Robinson, International Socialist Resistance
Whilst banks, retail chains and governments all try to look environmentally friendly, little has really happened to reduce environmental damage.
Carbon trading schemes like the Kyoto agreement have failed to produce any significant change. Even smaller measures meet resistance when they threaten profits.
The London borough of Merton council introduced a rule in 2003 stating that all newly built houses must reduce harmful emissions by 10%. In the four years since then, it has added on average just 3-4% to building costs.
Small measures like these, without being linked into a broader scheme to stop environmental destruction, will not save the planet. But, as a result of pressure from the building companies, government proposals will rule this measure illegal.
The Stern report calculated the cost of combating climate change to be 1% of global GDP a year.
Yet no government is seriously discussing introducing the necessary measures. New Labour and the other parties of the rich around the world are not contemplating tax increases on the super rich and big multinationals to cover these costs.
Instead we are asked to make personal sacrifices - holiday less, pay more 'eco-taxes' such as the congestion charge in London.
This hits workers and young people the hardest whilst leaving governments and big business with no responsibility for the mess they have created.
A recent survey found that half the car owners questioned would reduce their car use, but found there were no practical alternatives.
The same survey found that the environment was the fourth-biggest issue that people wanted the government to take action on.
The Heathrow airport protests highlight the issue and show the anger that exists against corporations responsible for climate change.
The key to ending climate chaos is public ownership and democratic planning of the world's economies. Such a socialist solution would see massive investment in public transport and cleaner energy.
The long term planning and allocation of resources to combat climate change is not possible under the present system. The environmental movement needs to oppose capitalism and argue for a democratically planned socialist world.
This would mean public ownership and genuine democratic control of the multinationals, with international cooperation and planning to eliminate pollutants and develop green technologies.