Socialist Worker

There are viable alternative ways to cut emissions

by Alison Smith
Issue No. 2053

Supplying clean energy and cutting carbon emissions are both technologically feasible and economically possible.

Onshore wind power could realistically provide 40 percent of Britain’s current energy usage and the potential for offshore wind energy is even greater.

Many of the myths regarding the costs of wind farms, the level of noise pollution, and the impacts on bird populations, have been exaggerated by the nuclear lobby.

A large scale conversion to renewable energies, such as wind, solar and tidal power, would massively help reach the necessary emission cuts.

In addition we need investment into increased efficiency, proper insulation for all homes and buildings, and a properly funded and reliable public transport system to reduce emissions from cars and short haul flights.

Instead New Labour places the focus on market strategies and individual action, putting the responsibility on people to insulate their own homes and use less energy.

The privatisation of public transport and of council housing, and the long working hours and low wages that are the reality for the majority of working people make it impossible to make such changes.

Threats

This means the extent to which individuals can reduce the threats of climate change is limited.

There needs to be government investment to properly insulate all homes, for a large scale conversion to renewable energy and to create a reliable, affordable and expanded public transport system.

The majority of energy use is by business not individuals. If we want to cut energy use we should target industry rather than individuals.

The question of doing this is not one of economic or technological feasibility.

The vast amount of money needed to construct and run nuclear power stations, in addition to the cost of the Trident renewal programme, which is inextricably linked to the plans for a new generation of nuclear power, would provide sufficient funds.

This is not to mention the billions of pounds worth of subsidies that go into the fossil fuel industry.

The question is one of political will, as to make these changes means limiting the power of the fuel corporations, the automobile industry and the nuclear lobby.

We need to demand that money is invested into renewables.

We must fight against privatisation of housing, transport, and all services, which only leads to greater inefficiency.

Crucially we need to argue in the environmental movement to link these struggles with the fight against climate change.

Nuclear power will not stop climate change. Nor will it improve living standards or provide jobs for working people as it is part of an agenda to renew nuclear weapons and to maintain centralised, big business power production.

In contrast an energy strategy focused around renewable energy, increased efficiency and public transport can do a lot more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

It can also provide employment and significantly improving the welfare of ordinary people.

Alison Smith is speaking on Marxism and ecology at Marixism 2007 from 5-9 July. » www.marxismfestival.org.uk


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