Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blair keeps the wheels of profit turning

Former Prime Minister Blair put in a rare but brief television appearance last night. My, but how he has aged! His new death’s head mask is entirely appropriate for the role he is now playing.

Blair, you will recall, was the prime minister who co-organised the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan on a series of lies and deceptions. His sponsorship of the “war on terror” resulted in illegal abductions and torture, for which he could yet be held responsible.

In between times, he successfully destroyed the old Labour Party and created inequalities of wealth in Britain unseen for a century.

On leaving office, he was given the role of ambassador for the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States) whose aim is to make a deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

in May this year Blair received a $1.4 million award from the Israeli Dan David Foundation for his "exceptional leadership". So much for his “independence”. No wonder Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is able to continue with his country’s illegal settlement building without fear of rebuke from Blair (or Obama, for that matter).

Now Blair, who earns $9 million a year as an “adviser” to JP Morgan and Zurich Insurance, has popped up with a report on climate change. He presented it to the United Nations yesterday as officials struggled to prevent the Copenhagen climate summit scheduled for December from collapsing before it even gets under way.

Blair chaired a group that insists that in tackling global warming, economic growth and consumption have to be sustained, which is a big lie. He said: “Forging and implementing a global deal will not be easy but world leaders can be confident that reaching a deal is both achievable and consistent with their measures to promote economic recovery.”

He was speaking to the converted. For the majority of those gathered at both the UN before going on to the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, the unquestionable, underpinning assumption is that any action on climate change is subordinated to the profit-yielding growth in the production of commodities.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao explicitly tied his country’s new commitment to environmental concerns to reducing the growth of climate change emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product. Rather than the dramatic reductions needed to bring the current atmospheric concentration back below the danger levels already extant, he intends the Chinese economy to continue to grow rapidly, and carbon dioxide emissions will continue to follow it, just a bit more slowly.

But the evidence is against even that modest aim.

Andrew Sentance, a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee summarises the whole problem. His paper, Energy and Environmental Challenges in the New Global Economy, shows that growth in energy consumption has increased relative to the growth in GDP in recent decades. Sentance adds:

“On the environmental front, a return to global economic growth will put upward pressure on the output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses as energy consumption increases. A resumption of global growth will therefore tend to raise emissions, moving them in the opposite direction to the big emissions cuts that will ultimately be necessary to stabilise the global climate. Over the course of the next decade, however, we will need to start to reverse this trend of rising emissions without jeopardising the growth of the global economy and the development aspirations of poorer nations around the world.”
Just how this is to be achieved he doesn’t (or can’t) explain.

The limits of what can be squeezed out of people and the planet in the name of profit have been reached. It is now time to salvage the recyclable, reusable components of the bankrupt capitalist economy, and direct them in sustainable production satisfying the democratically-determined needs of the world’s population.

Gerry Gold
Economics editor

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