Monday, September 30, 2013

ConDemned to climate change as profit comes first

The ConDems’ answer to the stark warnings contained in the latest scientific assessment of climate change is to put forward policies that will actually intensify the ecological crisis.       

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shows that humans have used up between a half and two thirds of the amount of emissions possible before we dangerously overheat the planet.

But the government’s response to the 5th IPCC report on climate change can be summed up as follows:
  • Chancellor George Osborne states he does not want the UK to be at the forefront of tackling climate change
  • Energy minister Michael Fallon wants to end the obligation on energy companies to fund improved insulation in people's homes.
  • Justice minister Chris Grayling says that fracking for shale gas is the way forward
  • Climate Change minister Owen Paterson says that climate change is not all bad - fewer people will die in the winter for example.
In other words, the ConDems will do everything in their power to serve the interests of the energy corporations and the banks who finance dirty fuel. And it is the same reaction from governments right across the globe.

Since the IPCC is all about modelling trends, maybe somebody should model the trends of global government responses to their reports.

Here are statistics that could be input into a new International Panel on Capitalist Climate Chaos model:
• Since the 4th IPCC report published five years ago an additional 200 billion tonnes of CO2 have been released into the atmosphere.
• CO2 emissions are 60% higher than at the time of the first IPCC report in 1990.
• To avoid dangerous climate 60% of energy will need to come from renewables by 2030 (International Energy Agency). We are on track to achieve just 18% globally.
• An industry report predicts that world coal-fired power plant capacity will increase more than a third from 2010 to 2020.
• The role of gas in the global energy mix will increase by one third in the period from 2010 to 2018.
• The UK Treasury wants 30 new gas power stations built.
• Every climate summit has failed to achieve a global binding agreement on reducing emissions.

You might ask how is it possible for governments to go on financing the work of the IPCC and even to say they believe that climate change is happening, but at the same time to continue along this path?

It is because they exist only as functionaries of a capitalist hegemony that attempts to rule every aspect of human society at this point. Everything is predicated on production for profit. Competition for markets means costs are constantly being driven down.

And it’s got a lot worse since the recession, which coincided with publication of the  previous IPCC report. So Osborne can say that being competitive is more important than tackling climate change.

Desperate for solutions, it seems that some members of the IPCC are putting their faith in a renewed carbon market. This time, market forces will be shut out, unlike previous schemes such as the EU model that had to be bailed out and restructured recently. They believe this could enable governments, finally, to agree binding limits on emissions. It's all a pipedream.

Our present planetary social and economic system cannot make progress when global co-operation and mutual assistance are needed. No amount of pressure on governments and states is going to change this fundamental.

In the scales against this we can put modest progress towards environmentally sensitive production, recycling, pollution reduction, carbon sequestration and development of renewables.

All the efforts of scientists, researchers, businesses and foundations to find a different way of living and producing, are not wasted. They represent a road map for the future. The climate scientists who are holding up a mirror to the system are allies of fundamental change.

But they and we must stop wasting our time stirring and stirring the empty pot of international climate talks and market “solutions”. Instead we need to write a new plan based on meeting people's needs and not on generating profit, for growth in equality and fairness rather than growth in commodities, and for a democratic, bottom-up political structure where we can make this happen.

Penny Cole
Environment editor

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