Connor Rosoman, Brighton and Sussex Socialist Students
Last month, tens of thousands of young people took to the streets to protest against climate change. With more walkouts set for Friday 15 March, this could be the beginning of a new mass youth and student movement.
This environmental crisis has been caused by big business, which prioritises profit over anything else – including the planet and people’s needs. Just the top 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Although some groups see the climate movement as ‘apolitical’ or bigger than politics, the struggle against climate change is fundamentally linked to the struggle against capitalism.
Walkouts, as well as direct actions and publicity stunts, are a positive development. But in order to beat the climate crisis we must build a mass movement with the power to end the captalist system causing it.
The trade unions represent more than six million workers. If the working class stopped working then industry, shops, transport, schools and the whole of society would stop.
This is why the organised working class is potentially the most powerful force in changing society. If the student movement linked up with the workers and the unions, we could build an almighty mass movement against climate change.
Students should also organise student unions within their schools and colleges to fight for the right to protest, and against any reprisals they may face.
Such a movement, united on a programme for ‘socialist change – not climate change’, would be able to end the environmental catastrophe capitalism is racing toward.
The Tory government, like all pro-big business governments, offers no real solutions to halt runaway climate change and has been repeatedly found guilty in court over failing to deal with deadly air pollution. It stands for the interests of the corporations that have caused this crisis in the first place.
The Tories may have signed up to the Paris climate change agreement but those targets are voluntary and not enforceable.
A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell should fight for policies that do not bend the knee to ‘big oil’ and the other major corporations responsible for pumping out greenhouse gases, but instead put people first.
Such a programme would require a socialist government taking the banks and major corporations into public ownership, under democratic workers’ control and management. On that basis, we could fund the massive, immediate investment into green energy we need, and run the economy according to a sustainable plan of production based on people’s needs – not profit.
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