The following article was published in the Socialist Voice. No 36 (September/October).
Socialism or Environmental Catastrophe: The struggle against climate change must unite with the workers struggle against capitalism. Build the 20S general strike of young people and workers against climate change, austerity and capitalism!
Climate change is a reality. This July was the warmest ever recorded. Year after year, records are being broken. The consequences are well known: extreme weather, droughts, lost crops, devastating waves, desertification and loss of soils, increasingly intense fires – the list goes on and on.
This global ecological crisis has led to a mass extinction of biodiversity, with an extinction rate 10,000 times higher than is natural, and around one million threatened species. Extensive populations in Africa or Central America are forced to abandon their lands to join the migratory waves. Humanity is on the verge of an ecological collapse.
All the while, depredation and destruction of extensive territories at the hands of energy, mining, nuclear and timber companies, continues unabated.
The ecological crisis: a class issue
We are told that the cause of the crisis is “human behaviour”, a result of individual habits of consumption, and thus, it is ‘us’ who must change our habits. This is an outright lie to divert attention from the real cause: Capitalism. Take the example of emissions: just 100 companies are responsible for 70% of total global emissions. These are large energy companies. Or the example of water, just 8% of water usage is household, whilst 70% is agriculture and 22% is industry.
From the first waves of environmental destruction in the early 18th century, through the world wars, rise of nuclear energy, the use of pesticides, much of what is happening has been predicted. Capitalism can never change. The drive for profit is at the heart of the present catastrophes.
Many examples can be given but the environmental and social costs of building dams in for example India, China and Brazil has led to destruction and many deaths.
Huge corporations amass gigantic fortunes in the pockets of a few, at the cost of destroying the planet. At the same time, it is the working class, especially in impoverished countries, who pay the most devastating consequences. Therefore, the climate and ecological crisis is also a class struggle.
Governments rule for capitalism
Since the Rio de Janeiro summit in 1992, when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted, 27 years have passed, and 24 more than international conferences have taken place. But between 2017 and 2018, global emissions have increased by 2.7%.
Governments across the world simply pretend that they are trying to solve the crisis, setting ‘targets’ and declaring a ‘climate emergency’ whilst simultaneously supporting the very industries that are responsible. They are nothing but servants to these capitalists who enrich themselves through the destruction of the planet.
How do we face this fight?
Awareness of climate and environment change is growing. On 20 (and 27) September, a day of global struggle and strike has been called. The ISL and our International – the IWL-fi – is committed to constructing that in every country we can. 20-27S has the potential to be a milestone in the environmental struggle.
But what is the aim of this mobilization? For 20S to have the desired impact, it must fight against capitalist governments and capitalist control – capitalism will fight and stop far reaching regulation.
We call on the working class and their organisations including unions and social movements to join with the youth on 20S in the struggle against climate change. The capitalists only give orders, but it is the workers who make the economy work, our hands have the capacity to transform the world.
Only through the working class taking power will we avoid environmental and social disaster.
A Socialist program to fight climate change
- Nationalisation of the 100 largest companies, in particular energy, oil, mining and banks! Put them under the control of workers and the population!
- Nationalisation of public transport! Public Transport that services the population not profit! Create a large, free and sustainable network, replacing the model based on the private car!
- Strict emission limitation for industries! End the subterfuge of the emission rights trade!
- Make durability, reuse and recycling mandatory criteria! Eliminate superfluous or destructive productions!
- Intensive reforestation! Protection of biodiversity and the recovery of natural spaces!
- Not a single job loss!
- Reduction of the working week to 30 hours.
Only a mass struggle on the streets of young people and workers can save the planet by establishing socialist control against capitalist anarchy.