The Socialist 4 December 2019 |
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Climate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further
Corinthia Ward, North Birmingham Socialist Party
Friday 29 November saw the broadcast of the first ever election debate over climate change - no doubt arranged in response to the global mobilisation of young people protesting for immediate action to be taken to save the planet.
Unsurprisingly, Boris Johnson did not feel it was relevant or important enough to attend. The Brexit party was a no-show as well. In their absence two blocks of ice were slowly melting - a blunt reminder of what is happening to the polar ice caps.
On transport, the policy flaunted by the Greens was to charge a tax on those who make multiple long-haul flights and to limit access to cheap budget airline flights in order to encourage people to use trains.
All the parties, except Labour, promised the status quo of chucking more tax payers' money at private companies - something which has worked so well over the last 30 years!
Only Corbyn raised the nationalisation of rail, to not only improve the service but to make it more affordable for ordinary people, rather than penalising them for having to use a cheap airline flight as the alternative.
When it came to energy and housing, Corbyn put forward the policies of having state-owned energy companies, nationalising the National Grid, for a new 'green' council housing programme, as well as interest-free loans for lower earners to fit their homes with green technology and alterations.
The alternative by the other party leaders was to incentivise ordinary people through individual change into slapping some solar panels on their roofs, and calling for energy to no longer rely on fossil fuels, without actually presenting a plan on how we do this!
How are we meant to produce all the renewable energy needed if we don't have control of the industries and infrastructure which provide it to homes, or even produce the housing, in the first place?
As Corbyn pointed out, once we have control of these industries we can transfer to renewable energy while at the same time creating new jobs, and provide decent 'green' housing.
While claiming to be be the voice of the Earth, part of the Greens' answer to tackling climate change was to make ordinary people take on more financial burden - such as a tax on meat and dairy to force people to eat more vegetables.
Corbyn pointed out the link to food poverty and how it would be better to ensure people could actually afford decent food by better wages, etc. Sadly, all the parties missed the opportunity to link the food industry to nationalisation and public ownership.
As long as the farming industry and giant supermarket chains are under the control of a few wealthy individuals, they will continue to put profit before people and the environment. It is only if these industries are taken under democratic workers' control and management that green policies can be enforced while ensuring people actually have access to healthy diets.
It is a positive step forward that Corbyn's manifesto promises to bring key aspects of the big carbon producers into public ownership, but he shouldn't stop there. The top 100 companies alone produce 70% of the world's carbon emissions.
Only by taking all the major industries which contribute to climate change - energy, transport, construction, farming, fashion, etc - under planned, democratic workers' ownership can we ensure the future of our planet.
It will be workers themselves who can transform society to no longer leave a carbon footprint. But this can only be done under socialism, where production is no longer profit-driven, but instead organised to meet the needs of people and the planet.