This letter was collaboratively written with dozens of aligned groups. As the weeks of action called by Extinction Rebellion were coming to an end, our groups came together to reflect on the narrative, strategies, tactics and demands of a reinvigorated climate movement in the UK. In this letter we articulate a foundational set of principles and demands that are rooted in justice and which we feel are crucial for the whole movement to consider as we continue constructing a response to the ‘climate emergency’.
As always under the capitalism, be very careful for what you ask for since there are always unintended consequences within the profit system
A warning from War on Want that the Green New Deal may well lead to a what they call a new “Green Colonialism”
Once again what is required is a social revolution in the way we produce and distribute the world’s wealth, not tinkering around with palliative reforms.
The obvious question is how does one go about convincing the masses that global warming is not something that can be mitigated by buying an electric car and some solar panels?
From the list of demands:
- Hold transnational corporations accountable by creating a system that regulates them and stops them from practicing global destruction. This would include getting rid of many existing trade and investment agreements that enshrine the will of these transnational corporations.
- Take the planet off the stock market by restructuring the financial sector to make it transparent, democratised, and sustainable while discentivising investment in extractive industries and subsidising renewable energy programmes, ecological justice and regeneration programmes.
Absolutely yes! But i wonder how to do this without radically changing the structure and purpose of the corporation itself.
i demand that we abolish the investor-owned, limited-liability, publicly-traded corporation.
I have spent the last 15 years and nearly all my money doing everything possible to encourage/implement change. Transition town, localization, sustainability movements, Food web, slow money, more than a dozen “renewable energy” projects, appropriate tech/low tech, human powered propulsion, and many more. All fail on my local level as well as national and global level because of the lack of profit motive.
Nothing positive that represents a real solution will be profitable and any who argue with that fact should be ignored and shunned.
Nothing positive that represents a real solution will ever happen unless we change how money works.
Bravo! This is an excellent question that brings us to the underlying truth that individual actions, while admirable, cannot come close to achieving what is required to negate climate change. Not enough people can (or will) participate doing the same things – globally – to have even a miniscule affect.
The problem is systemic. The barriers are the inherent characteristics within capitalism. A capitalist system will not and cannot allow the required actions to be allowed to effectively get a handle on climate change because it will dramatically affect the way products and services are produced under capitalism. These required actions will dramatically increase expenses and gut profits. Neither of these will be acceptable to the capitalist ruling elites.
This is exactly why the “burden” of responsibility is being placed in the hands of consumers … and not the producers who created the crisis in the first place. Just as an example: Of all the fossil-fuel powered cars on the roads today across the world, what percentage can actually be replaced … even over the period of a decade?
Man well-meaning environmentalists ask each of us individually to changes our habits and life-styles so we can prevent tipping into irreversible climate change. Suggestions abound, such as switching to electric cars. But if everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little. What is required is system change. Saying that individual or small scale actions can help solve the crisis, amounts to blaming ordinary folk absolving the capitalist system for the destruction of the environment. The average person is not to blame for struggling to survive in the only ways that this system permits and it adds insult to injury by blaming those unable to control or direct the system for its consequences.
It is the capitalists, in their imperative drive to sell commodities in order to realize profits, who determine the consumption practices of the world’s peoples so why blame these consumption practices on the people themselves, especially upon those who struggle for the basics needed to sustain life. Capitalism, however, presents millions of workers with the impossible choice: Your job or your life. There can be no “solution” based on somehow lowering global living standards to some minimum level in the name of sacrifice to save the planet. There would be no way to impose it except by some authoritarian dictatorship.
When the working people are able to rationally plan the production of things we really need cooperative planning without the intervention of the profit motive, will permit us to act according to our needs. We will defeat global warming, as well as put an end to war and the other miseries of capitalist rule. Socialism is the only form of organisation in which the world will be capable of restoring a sustainable relationship between humanity and the rest of nature. As long as capitalism exists, with its expansionist tendencies, we will be incapable of solving the problems of humanity’s interaction with nature, in which nature is used up in the drive for profits and the waste products choke and starve us. Socialism means organising human societies in a manner that is compatible with the way that nature is organised. Capitalist society robs us of community with each other and community with the earth. Capitalism systematically defiles the environment. When profit is the ultimate motive for development, risks of serious danger to health and damage to the environment are secondary considerations.
Here is another dampener for those progressive reformers who advocate alongside the GND, the Universal Basic Income.
Research conducted for Public Services International, a global trade union federation, reviewed for the first time 16 practical projects that have tested different ways of distributing regular cash payments to individuals across a range of poor, middle-income and rich countries, as well as copious literature on the topic. It could find no evidence to suggest that such a scheme could be sustained for all individuals in any country in the short, medium or longer term – or that this approach could achieve lasting improvements in wellbeing or equality.
Just to offer a critical perspective on the link between sexism and climate change that is asserted here. It seems to me that not only are they not casually connected, they may in fact be negatively correlated. This is because in affluent democracies over the last forty years as women gained more rights and sexual discrimination decreased with the gains made by feminism emissions have actually risen. Which means sexual equality is no guarantee of carbon neutrality. Conversely, it is conceivable that a carbon neutral economy could also be sexist. I suspect this negative correlation exists because women have gained greater political rights in affluent liberal democracies since the 1960s - and that affluence is in large part fueled by fossil fuel extraction. I suppose it is goes without saying that women buy half of the food, half of the clothes and engage in half of the air travel - which means emissions are probably equally distributed between genders.
I would also like to address the views expressed about capitalism which is portrayed in entirely negative terms as part of a system of domination. This view should be balanced with other facts - for example “fossil fuel capitalism” has pulled millions out of poverty in recent decades (i.e China). We face a dilemma - extractive industries have fueled the development of society for 150 years - and this has had positive and negative consequences - reducing poverty in many parts of the world, exacerbating it in others. It also underpins the massive growth and development in the medical sciences, infrastructure development and virtually every aspect of modern life. However, pulling people out of poverty in China over the last few decades has also been accompanied by steady increase in emissions. In these type of discussions we should keep Marx’s dialectical method in mind - capitalism is both one of the most innovative and vibrant economic systems devised by humans - it is also one of the most destructive. Reality is always more complex than the ideas we have about it.