Contribution of Workers Party of Ireland
The Workers Party of Ireland extends greetings to the participating parties in this teleconference.
Climate change and its effects are undeniable and accelerating. Environmental degradation is an existential threat. Heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires are leading to the devastation of communities across the world. It is clear that the opportunity to prevent devastating additional change has been lost due to capitalist exploitation and governments more interested in facilitating maximum profits and placating anti-science and reactionary elements of their electorates than preserving life on the planet.
Imperialism contributes to climate change not just in its destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit, but also through the environmental impact of the militarism associated with imperialism. War is devastating the environment as well as lives, and adding countless tonnes of carbon to the environment. Socialists have recognised for over a century that one of the most destructive elements of capitalism is its wasteful use of precious resources. Protecting and repairing the environment must be, and is, central to the socialist alternative in the twenty first century.
Providing a decent standard of living for everyone need not be environmentally destructive. Socialism means a planned economy. A planned economy is exactly what fighting climate change requires. Only a socialist approach can provide for the careful husbanding of resources necessary to ensure sustainability, and only a socialist approach can operate on the scale necessary to prevent further climate change and introduce restorative measures to repair much of the damage done. Truly, when it comes to a socialist approach to the environment, there is no alternative.
The recent attempts by capitalism to respond to environmental degradation is to utilise free-market mechanisms to mitigate anthropogenic climate change. Its advocates argue that the market supplies the best means to innovate technological solutions that can compete with existing polluting practices. These effects generate the inevitable consequences of a capitalist economic framework: crisis, waste and inequalities.
The premise of so-called “green capitalism” is that the environment is merely a resource for capitalist production. This ignores the reality that the capitalist economy has created and aggravated the circumstances that have generated the conditions responsible for anthropogenic climate change. The concept of sustainable capitalism, advocated and promoted by the European Union and its parties is misconceived. The economic priority of capitalist enterprise to maximise profit is in inherent contradiction to a genuine commitment to tackle climate change and fails to provide the possibility of addressing exploitation and inequality.
The promises of green capitalism are an illusion built on anarchic and contradictory foundations. Imperialist domination of poorer countries continues through so-called “sustainability” initiatives, such as the EU’s outsourcing of deforestation, that exploit the resources of those nations.
Carbon offset projects lead to resource exploitation where poor farmers are forced to compete with private foreign interests for the land that provides their basic needs, leading as it has in East Africa, for example, to forced evictions and food scarcity.
The merger of massive monopolies poses a serious threat to environmental sustainability and will inevitably lead to higher prices for workers and their families, job losses, weakened workers' bargaining power and worsening working conditions and wages.
In December 2019, the European Commission released its ‘European Green Deal’ (EGD) strategy. This is not a strategy for change. It is a strategy for exploitation. It will not lead to a more just and sustainable future.
Climate change requires system change. Only a rupture with capitalism and the creation of a socialist society can genuinely save the planet and avert climate disaster.