GMB Scotland said members in Glasgow city council's cleansing department would strike for a week from 00:01 on Monday.
Nevertheless, at COP26, those who have not broken with capitalist ideas will promote:
1. Renewable energy.
2. Energy efficiency.
3. Emissions reduction
4. Capture carbon dioxide.
5. The use of biofuels.
6. Carbon offsetting and carbon trading.
7. Tax rewards and punitive taxes
They will tell us that capitalism has gone green and that the corporations are now environmentally accountable and answerable to government climate regulation. It is all nonsense. Corporate bosses are inveterate liars and incapable of exercising rational judgement when protecting the environment and protecting their profits clash. In the interests of businesses the latter consistently trumps the former.
Accordingly, many measures taken by corporations ostensibly to mitigate climate change are cosmetic – they are designed to placate public opinion. Other reforms assumed to mitigate climate change, in reality, serve other vested interests. While government legislation invariably ends up toothless with ample loopholes. Soft reforms are linked with the greenwashing PR press releases, worded in language that says much and means little, sounding logical yet without logic.
Capitalism is inherently wasteful. If we are to save the planet, we have to fundamentally change how society uses, produces and treats its resources. Do we really want to leave to our children and grandchildren a planet that is poisoned and polluted, pillaged and plundered? We cannot be duped by the deceptive rhetoric of “change” and “reform.” A vile slice of rotting pie is no pie at all.
The idea of a cooperative commonwealth with collective social ownership and democratic control of the economy by the people has a name: socialism. It is a concept that still deserves to be discussed. We need to construct an economic democracy where the people make the decisions at all levels. Contrary to some claims there has been no model of socialism of that sort anywhere around the world in its history.
The Socialist Party is breaking new ground toward envisioning a new society with genuine freedom. We must understand that the most important thing is our goal, ending capitalist control of the economy and political life, and its replacement by a people’s power that can protect the planet and ensure peace. Climate change and pandemic crises cross borders. We must create solidarity without frontiers. Building world socialism that consciously connects diverse resistance and unites varied struggles will be a formidable challenge, but we must face the future not with fear or despair, but with determination and a vision rooted in our socialist ideals which continue to motivate us. We must educate ourselves and each other. We must be clear in the down-to-earth, understandable language of everyday people, as we expose the lies and subterfuge of the capitalists. We must be organised and learn to encourage one another. Each one, teach one.
Nature is being damaged today because the productive activity is oriented towards the accumulation of profits rather than towards the direct satisfaction of human needs. The economic mechanism of the profit system can function in no other way. Profits always take priority both over meeting needs and over protecting the environment. This is why the Earth's resources have been plundered throughout the history of capitalism without a thought for the future, why chemical fertilisers and pesticides are over-used in farming, why power stations and factories release all sorts of dangerous and noxious substances into the air and water, why road transport has replaced rail transport, why human waste is not recycled back to the land, why animals are injected with growth hormones, why goods are made not to last but with built-in obsolescence. The list of anti-ecological practices indulged under capitalism because more profitable is endless. The ecological concern is not just about protecting the environment. It is about human beings too — the way we live and the quality of our life. With appropriate modification, modern techniques of production are quite capable of providing enough quality food, comfortable housing and decent health for every person on Earth and of doing this without damaging the environment. But the people of the world are up against a well-entrenched economic and social system based on private property, class privilege and coercive economic laws. Reforms under capitalism, however well-meaning or determined, can never solve the environmental crisis — the most they can do is to palliate some aspect of it on a precarious temporary basis. They can certainly never turn capitalism into an ecological society.
With regard to the destruction and polluting of the environment, laws against this are only necessary in a society where the economic tendency is to do this since in a rationally-organised society it just would not occur to anyone involved in producing food to deliberately adulterate it. Laws against plundering and pillaging natural resources are only necessary where the tendency to do this is built-in to the economic system. It also means that such laws, besides being frequently broken, can only be palliatives, attempts to deal with effects while leaving the cause intact.
Political campaigners for the environment have a tactical choice to make. Either they go for more laws and restrictions to try to protect the environment or they go for a radical social change to bring about a society in which the environment wouldn’t need protecting. Try to patch up and change the spots of present-day society or work to establish a new society for the lasting and constructive solution?
The conclusion is clear: if the present environmental crisis is to be solved and the threat to — indeed the actual degradation of — the environment removed, then capitalism must go. It must be replaced by a socialist society. The only social framework within which human beings could live in harmony with, not at the expense of, the rest of nature is easy enough to discern: it would have to be a society which has the aim of production to satisfy human needs, not to make and accumulate profits. In short, socialism.
Much of the media and many of the attendees are hoping with a good deal of optimism for its success. But it is difficult to believe that capitalism will ever heal itself. Whatever pledges that were made at previous COPs, have been reneged on. Promises have come to nothing. As apologists for capitalism, despite being specialists and scientists the delegates continue to fail to locate global problems in a wider social and economic context, in capitalism itself.
A history of failed attempts to fix a system that cannot meet needs leads to the conclusion that a new social system should be tried, a system without money and the profit motive in which the interests and needs of all are paramount.
The question people face is: can capitalism deliver? Or far more important question is: what could be done in a socialist society?
With the advent of world socialism, we can expect a considerable reduction in carbon emissions obtained by ending the enormous wasteful economic activity and production inherent in capitalism. A major contribution to this pollution is the upkeep of the military and then all the resources devoted to the exchange economy.
The enormous budgets spent and raw materials expended on the maintenance of nations’ military machines represent an enormous drain on land, resources and personnel. Insane? No, it's logical, at least within the logic of capitalism.
Socialism would eliminate the need for these anti-social industries and thereby rapidly introduce a large cut in energy production and consequently CO2 emissions. This would serve to loosen the reliance on mitigating technologies discussed above but enable the provision of improved living standards to the undeveloped and developing world can be met. People, and not money, will control their lives and the direction of social progress. In the first period of socialism clearing up the structural mess left by capitalism would be a priority project.
Capital accumulation is in fact the biggest stumbling block. Effective climate action is against the profit-making interests of much of the capitalist class. In fighting for our civilisation, we are ultimately up against the mindless and heartless ‘growth machine’ that has come to dominate our world. Endless expansion is intrinsic to capital which n is inhuman and anti-human. Capitalism simply does not provide a framework for the rational solution for the problem of climate change. The profit motive has led to an increase in greenhouse gases and so to the real possibility of an increase in global temperature. We should all weigh up the odds of the race between a rational future society of plenty and peace which is the promise of socialism as against the prevalence of capitalist barbarism.
If you think the alternative socialism or barbarism is some hypothetical aspect of the future; we wish to disillusion you for the barbarism that has already been experienced in many parts of the world. But the odds are what we make them. There is still reason for hope, for so long as the working people remain capable of revolt, so long as it is discontent, so long as it exists as a working-class, there remains the possibility of a socialist victory. What do we mean by that phrase, “so long as it exists as a working-class?”
Like the Communist Manifesto explained, there is the full possibility of the mutual “ruination” of the “contending classes.” And to passively accept the inevitability of an environmental holocaust, as some ecological catastrophists do, is not a revolution.
And nothing can be more impossible than the goal of self-survival on a ruined planet. Socialists promote the synthesis of ecological balance, social harmony, personal freedom and material comfort that is humanity’s birthright. We refute the despair of mystical pie-in-the-sky New Ageism. The kind of economy we live in determines the nature of our laws, government, culture, ideas, feelings and ethics. The competitive warfare system of capitalist production produces a destructive, anti-human science and culture. Human beings can learn to understand nature, production and social relations, and change them in a rational manner. Some environmentalists see no difference between capitalism and socialism. But the two irreconcilable systems spell the difference between life and death for this planet’s people.