Capitalism and the rich create climate catastrophe

We are in a climate emergency. With just over one degree of warming, the world is already experiencing catastrophic disasters. Australia’s bushfire crisis has brought this home to millions of people.

Thirty-four people have now lost their lives. Homes and entire communities have been wiped out. Huge swathes of land have burnt with such ferocious intensity that some ecosystems will never recover.

This is set to get far worse. Current global pledges to reduce emissions will take us to 3.2 degrees of warming by the end of the century, the official UN Emissions Gap report says. Global climate talks in December once again failed to secure tougher action.

Governments have known what was coming for years. But in the 25 years since global climate summits began, annual emissions have increased by over 60 per cent.

Scott Morrison’s government has not only failed to act, it has set out to sabotage the global response. And Labor is no better—defending the continuation of coal mining as it walks back even its modest commitments on climate action.

It’s not hard to see why. Australian capitalism is addicted to fossil fuels. There are billions of dollars sunk in coal-fired power stations and energy-intensive transport and manufacturing. Mining companies exported $26 billion worth of coal and $49 billion of gas last year. Capitalism depends on ever increasing profits in order to function—and the corporations who make billions from polluting the planet are not about to give up their wealth.

Action on climate change requires fighting the system and demanding that the future of the planet comes before corporate profits.

This starts with building pressure from below for the climate transition needed through mass protests and strikes. But this must be connected to a fight for system change—to get rid of capitalism altogether and demand a socialist society run according to very different priorities.

We live in the richest society that has ever existed in human history, yet the world remains blighted by inequality, poverty and environmental catastrophe. The 26 richest people in the world control $2.5 trillion—as much wealth as half of humanity. This wealth must be taken and used to meet the basic needs of people and the planet.

The wave of global revolt against inequality in countries from Chile to Lebanon and Iraq has shown how to challenge the system. We need to build the same spirit of revolt here.

By James Supple


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