And we can see from this year’s floods how the establishment will treat populations affected. Government inaction, unpreparedness and indifference to the plight of those affected. And of course, as has been seen in Gloucester, in emergencies it is the police and military who take charge. So these events will profoundly affect how we live and how we are ruled.
And while people are queing desperately for food and bottled water, they can consider the real purpose of the claims of corporation’s like Walmart that they are now “green businesses”.
Governments have opted out – that was the message from the G8 in Germany – they are going to leave climate change entirely to the market. And from the market, what we are getting is – Greenwash. It is business as usual, but with the addition of new range of commodities, all designed to increase profits.
There are even new financial products: Goldman Sachs markets “weather derivatives,” “renewable energy credits,” and other “climate-related commodities”, as well as trading in carbon.
In 2004, Al Gore teamed up with Goldman Sachs executives to establish the London-based environment investment firm Generation Investment Management (GIM). No wonder the one thing left out of his film was the role of the corporation’s in causing climate change.
- British Airways are offsetting on average 1,600 tonnes of emissions a year - the equivalent of four return flights to New York on a Boeing 777
- BP advertised it was moving "Beyond Petroleum" but will spend $5 billion over five years for oil exploration in Alaska alone
- Shell, with its slogan "Profits or Principles", spends a tiny 0.6% of its annual investments on renewable energy
- Cargill Dow has a new wonder fabric "NatureWorks PLA" (polylactic acid), made entirely from corn. But the source material is genetically engineered corn and parent company Cargill is the world's largest producer
- Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Novartis, Zeneca, BASF and Aventis have launched the "Council for Biotechnology Information” which is spending up to $250 million over three years to try to convince the public that GM foods are good for the planet.
The fact is that if we leave it to the market to tackle climate change, it will be much profit made and no emissions saved. The poorest in the world will bear the brunt of the impacts arising from the failure to act, and democratic rights will be under attack in an atmosphere of continuous emergency.
The challenge is to chart the way forward to a new era of human democracy, wresting control of action on climate change from the corporations and their slavish servant governments.
Penny Cole, environment editor