Hurricanes have hit the Caribbean, large areas of the UK and Asia are recovering from floods and Australia and southern Europe suffers from drought. So how can we save the environment? The APEC leaders meeting will be discussing climate change next week but will this talk shop of the rich solve anything?
Whilst banks, retail chains and governments all try to look environmentally friendly, little has really happened to reduce environmental damage. Carbon trading schemes like the Kyoto agreement have failed to produce any significant change. Even smaller measures meet resistance when they threaten profits.
Some governments around the world have introduced rules stating that all newly built houses must reduce harmful emissions. These measures are to be welcomed but without being linked into a broader scheme to stop environmental destruction, they will not save the planet.
The Stern report calculated the cost of combating climate change to be 1% of global GDP a year. Yet no government is seriously discussing introducing the necessary measures. All of the parties of the rich around the world are not contemplating tax increases on the super rich and big multinationals to cover these costs.
Instead we are asked to make personal sacrifices – save water, holiday less, pay more taxes on car spaces and increases in parking costs. This hits workers and young people the hardest whilst leaving governments and big business with no responsibility for the mess they have created.
A recent survey found that half the car owners questioned would reduce their car use, but found there were no practical alternatives such as an integrated public transport system. The same survey found that the environment was the fourth-biggest issue that people wanted the government to take action on. The recent airport protests at Heathrow in London highlight the issue and show the anger that exists against corporations responsible for climate change.
The key to ending climate chaos is public ownership and democratic planning of the world’s economies. Such a socialist solution would see massive investment in public transport and cleaner energy.
The long term planning and allocation of resources to combat climate change is not possible under the present profit driven system. The environmental movement needs to oppose capitalism and argue for a democratically planned socialist world. This would mean public ownership and genuine democratic control of the multinationals, with international cooperation and planning to eliminate pollutants and develop green technologies. Expect no genuine solutions such as these at the APEC meeting next week.
By SP reporters