Socialist Worker

Saving the planet means dumping the rich

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2642

There was a big turnout for the climate strike in Leeds

There was a big turnout for the climate strike in Leeds (Pic: Neil Terry)


The last few months has seen an explosion of inspiring struggle to fight climate change.

For socialists, challenging environmental chaos is part of a wider fight about the kind of world we live in.

Action on the streets comes alongside increasingly serious warnings from leading scientists about impending crisis on a global scale.

Radical action is needed now, not in 15 or 20 years when the climate crisis will be devastating.

Thousands of students strike across Britain to demand action on climate change
Thousands of students strike across Britain to demand action on climate change
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Sea levels rising, increasing extreme weather events, millions forced from their homes, loss of ecosystems and threats to food production are just some of the threats.

Climate scientists say there are only 12 years left to limit carbon emissions to avoid the worst-case scenarios.

This attempt to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees would need a drastic reduction in carbon emissions.

Promise

So far the response of political leaders has been to hold climate talks that promise little and deliver less.

Countries are sailing through their carbon emissions targets agreed at the Paris talks three years ago and are set to exceed them for the foreseeable future.

Stopping the use of fossil fuels will be essential to limit carbon emissions. But instead the Tory government is trying to push through large-scale fracking in Britain.

Mining and burning fossil fuel on an industrial scale is one of the main contributors to climate change.

This has been known for decades—yet the bosses of huge oil and gas corporations continue to do it.

It’s estimated that by 2025, oil and gas production will be 25 percent higher than in 2017.

But the rich are just worried about their profits.

Shareholders at the worlds’ largest fossil fuel firm, ExxonMobil, voted to make the company disclose how it was taking action on keeping temperature rise to 2 degrees. But the vote in 2017 wasn’t done out of concern for the environment—but so the company could explain how restrictions would “affect its business”.

Why are companies allowed to get away with polluting our world despite proof that their actions are causing chaos?

The answer lies in the way it seems as though everyone has a common interest in stopping our planet becoming inhabitable.

But even in the short term, the rich can avoid the consequences of climate change.

When wildfires hit California in the US last summer, millionaires employed private firefighting forces to protect their homes while ordinary people saw theirs burn to the ground.

Climate change is not inevitable. It’s a direct result of organising society according to the logic of capitalism.

Burned

Temperatures have risen so drastically in the last century because bosses have burned oil, gas and coal on an industrial scale.

And although they can appear very powerful, no individual politician or oil tycoon controls the entire system. So each prime minister or CEO works to protect their own interests.

If they don’t, they could get booted out of office or their firm could be put out of business.

What kind of society could solve the climate crisis?
What kind of society could solve the climate crisis?
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Under capitalism, the rich are happy to pollute the environment as long as they can continue to collect profits.

They see the natural world as a series of resources to be plundered, rather than the only home to every human being and animal species.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Fighting for a socialist society means fighting for the type of world where ordinary people have a voice.

It means building a sustainable future, and organising production around what humans need—not how bosses can make money.


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