Trade Wars

Capitalism and the climate crisis: the call of the IPCC falls on deaf ears

Buried under the propaganda surrounding the war in Ukraine recently, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third installment of its latest report, focusing on the urgent need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas.

IPCC findings reveal that existing pledges, far from limiting global warming to an increase of 1.5℃, as agreed at the COP21 summit in Paris in 2015, would in fact see global temperatures reach 3.2℃ above pre-industrial averages by 2100. This would have devastating consequences. for billions around the world.

Climate inaction, the report concludes, has brought us to a ‘now or never’ tipping point, whereby global carbon dioxide emissions will have to peak over the next three years – then decline by 43% by 2030. – to stay on target with the Paris Agreement.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres went so far as to point the finger at “liar” government and business leaders, who he said had presided over “a litany of broken climate promises”, revealing a “yawning gap between climate promises and reality”.

Guterres may look surprised. But the fact that the capitalist system is incapable of solving the climate crisis has been increasingly clear to most workers and young people for some time.

Hot air

Overall, noise from establishment politicians about “climate action” turned out to be little more than hot air.

Capitalist governments boast of public and private investment plans to deal with the impending crisis. Yet Climate Action Tracker researchers found that out of 40 countries surveyed in 2021, none had enough policies to meet the Paris Agreement. In fact, 21 countries had policies that increase emissions.

At the same time, the OECD (a club of advanced capitalist countries) found that in 2019 only $80 billion of the $100 billion annual transfer from rich countries to poor countries promised in the Bets had been made available – a figure that has probably fallen further since. Oxfam’s own survey suggests the real figure is closer to $19-23 billion.

Even that money is being used in misleading ways, with some countries classifying development aid (already dubiously used by imperialists as a means of ‘soft power’) as relevant to climate goals, even though it’s clearly not the case.

That the Paris Agreement itself is not enough to resolve the crisis is an inconvenient truth glossed over by the establishment. The capitalists will not let any simple law, regulation or agreement get in the way of their pursuit of profit. It’s the elephant in the room that none of these big business politicians dare to mention.

profit logic

Elsewhere, market proponents bragged about the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), created at COP26. The intention is to mobilize private capital for the “decarbonisation” of the global economy, with 450 companies – valued at a combined total of more than $130 trillion – signing on to the initiative.

A small catch with this proposal is that there are no plans, commitments or deadlines attached. Instead, ordinary people are expected to take the bosses at their word when they say they will disburse their money in a timely and orderly fashion.

These empty promises and “greenwashing” are clearly designed to throw dust in our eyes – an attempt to distract us while the capitalists continue to destroy the planet for their profits.

The lack of private investment in the fight against the climate crisis is not the result of a few ignorant politicians and business leaders, but is part of the logic of capitalism itself.

Ultimately, capitalists only invest to make a profit, not to meet the needs of people or the planet.

And with most climate-related investment opportunities deemed too risky or too unrewarding, they are far more interested in pouring their money into speculative bubbles, demonstrating once again capitalism’s inability to move society forward. ‘a thumb.

wishful thinking

coal protest

The latest IPCC report naively suggests that the consequences of the pandemic would give governments the opportunity to rebuild their economies on a sustainable basis. Similar hopes were expressed regarding the war in Ukraine and the possibility of weaning the global economy from fossil fuels. This is nothing but wishful thinking.

The anarchy of the capitalist market is a hindrance to any transition from oil and gas to renewable alternatives.

Already, for example, left to the “invisible hand” of the market, growing demand for materials needed for low-carbon technologies, together with tightening regulations, is driving “green inflation,” pushing up the costs of decarbonization. compared to the initial calculations.

Similarly, although the cost of solar panels and wind turbines has fallen dramatically over the past decade, as the IPCC report notes, the deployment of green technologies is hampered by the profit motive.

On the one hand, renewable energies are still not as profitable as fossil fuels; and on the other hand, significant initial costs are necessary to develop a 100% clean energy sector.

The IPCC therefore regrets that current attempts at climate action boil down to incremental changes rather than “systemic transitions”.

Such systemic and widespread transformation requires large-scale planning, with massive investments in new infrastructure and technologies, and huge transfers of labor and capital across industries and entire nations.

The wealth and resources for this clearly exist. But you can’t plan what you don’t control; and you don’t control what you don’t own.

At the same time, we live in a time of immense and deepening capitalist crisis, fueling protectionism and trade wars – far from paramount conditions for the international cooperation needed to solve this inherently global problem.

Once again we see the fundamental barriers that the capitalist system imposes on progress: those of private property and the nation-state.

For socialist planning

System change

Although the IPCC is sounding the alarm, the capitalist class is not sweating. After all, while billions of people are suffering from droughts, floods and heat waves, the billionaires are already living on another planet than us.

It is the workers and the most vulnerable who will suffer the consequences of the climate catastrophe. The super-rich, meanwhile, are far from this destruction. And if all else fails and things get too hot on Earth, they’ll fly off into space.

The climate crisis is therefore ultimately a class issue.

The technological, scientific and productive capacity needed to mitigate global warming – and adapt to its worst impacts – already exists. But this can only be deployed successfully on the basis of a rationally planned socialist economy, under the democratic control of the workers.

Only on this basis can investments and resources be allocated according to the needs of society, rather than the profits of the capitalist class.

As disaster looms, the burning need to overthrow this rotten system has never been greater. And the choice facing humanity has never been clearer: socialism or barbarism.