When Greta Thunberg blasted world leaders at the United Nations (UN), she spoke for millions who are angry at their inaction on climate change.
Her glare at climate change sceptic Donald Trump went viral.
The following day Trump was among the first speakers at the UN General Assembly in New York. The others were Brazil’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro, Turkish ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egyptian dictator Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.
This quartet of climate deniers, racists and despots is a reminder of the horrors we urgently need to fight against.
The wildfires ripping through the Amazon, known as the “lungs of the Earth,” have disappeared from most newspapers.
But when Bolsonaro boarded his plane, the rainforest was still burning. Swathes of the forest have been handed over to his friends in big agribusiness and the logging industry—all for the pursuit of profit.
Erdogan has filled Turkey’s jails with political opponents, tried to rig elections, repressed the Kurdish minority and been an important player in the Syrian bloody civil war.
Yet Erdogan is greeted at the top table. He is a key ally of the European Union (EU) in its efforts to stop refugees coming to Europe and to deport those who make it.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee war, destitution and dictatorship in the region.
And millions more will be displaced because of climate change in the coming decades.
Instead of tackling the root causes, the solution for the rich and powerful is to build up more walls to protect their interests. The problem is bigger than Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan and Sisi.
There was some strong rhetoric at the UN.
French president Emmanuel Macron said he would no longer do trade deals with countries that weren’t signed up to the deeply inadequate Paris climate agreement.
And Australia’s Tory prime minister demanded that China does more on climate change—when his government is beholden to fossil fuel capitalists.
Some world leaders feel the need to respond to the growing climate movement. But our rulers’ system means they won’t deliver the sort of action that’s needed.
Under capitalism corporations and states have to compete to stay ahead of their rivals.
So everything is subordinated to making a profit—at the expense of planet and people.
That’s why, in Greta Thunberg’s words, “We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”
Our hope lies with growing the movement on the streets, in the workplaces and on campuses to take on the system of inequality, war and climate chaos.