[Marxism] Class war at Copenhagan climate talks

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Wed Sep 9 01:04:03 MDT 2009


Class War at the Copenhagen Climate Change Talks September 3, 2009

*Climate change too is class war. Copenhagen is the next battle.*


*Editorial from the coming issue of **Socialist
*, Thanks to **Liam Mac
* for making it available.*

In December the world’s rulers will meet in Copenhagen to discuss what they
will do when the notably unsuccessful Kyoto Protocol expires. They won’t be
alone. Lobbyists from the aviation, petrochemical and mining industries will
be pressurising them in defence of their “right” to alter the planet’s
climate by pumping millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the

Writing in this issue Phil Thornhill of the Campaign Against Climate Change
says of Kyoto, “it was so weak and so full of holes that it was not going to
achieve any significant concrete results.” In Copenhagen the stakes are much
higher. Earlier this year Kim Carstensen of the WWF said, “We are at the
point where our climate system is starting to spin out of control… the
latest science confirms that we are now seeing devastating consequences of
warming that were not expected to hit for decades .”

Climate change will be a major element in the class struggle nationally and
globally in the coming years. It is the world’s poorest who will suffer most
and in the richer countries it will be working people, women and the
vulnerable whom capitalism will try and force to pay the price for adapting
to climate change. In Peru, as Derek Wall reports, clashes are taking place
between a government intent on destroying forests in search of oil while the
global levels of malnutrition are rising.

In Britain the Vestas closure was an indication of just how unserious New
Labour is about planning in a coherent way to create the sorts of jobs and
industrial base that will be required if the economy is to become much less
reliant on CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast it effectively
pours huge subsidies into the airline companies and is willing to force
through airport expansion in the teeth of opposition from popular local

A group of eighty of the least developed countries, among which are many
small island states, have called for reductions of at least 45 percent of
CO2 below 1990 levels by 2020, in order to keep the global temperature rise
below 1.5 degrees. For the low-lying island states this is a matter of
existential significance. If the waters rise they will be submerged along
with farming land in densely populated countries like Bangladesh and Egypt.
By contrast the industrial countries responsible for most of the emissions
are only proposing reduction by 16 to 24 percent by 2020 relative to 1990
levels and the United States has not even said it is willing to go that far.

Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) estimates
that some 90 to 140 billion dollars a year might be needed to pay for
climate change mitigation technologies and adaptation. The banking crisis
has changed the way people think about billions of dollars, pounds and
euros. Suddenly these sums seem well within the reach of governments. That
is why socialists, environmentalists, trade unions and working class
communities need to get their voice heard in the debate around Copenhagen.

We have had some straws in the wind that this is starting to happen. Both
the Visteon and Vestas struggles showed that working people are beginning to
make the connection between their jobs, capitalism and the environment. The
G20 protests and the Climate Camp are proof that radicalising young people
understand the issues and many of the solutions much more clearly than New
Labour. (I don’t think it’s that New Labour doesn’t understand – but they
are too tied to big business to carry out the policies that are needed.)

Socialist Resistance will be supporting the demonstrations in Copenhagen.
However even if you are not able to get there to be part of what will
probably be one of the most important mobilizations to prevent climate
change, there is still much that you can do. You could organise a local
meeting of the Campaign Against Climate Change to discuss the issues, put
motions through your union branch or conference, anything which poses
alternatives to capitalist production.

Climate change too is class war. There are only two real options on the
table. The first is that proposed by the oil companies and their tame
politicians. The second is what can be forced on them by the pressure of the
organised working class and the strong, broad movement which offers
solutions that favour the majority of humanity. Copenhagen is the next

"The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?" — Jarvis Cocker

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" — Oscar Wilde

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