Socialist Worker

Don’t trust leaders to stop climate change disaster

Issue No. 1957

illustration by Leon Kuhn

illustration by Leon Kuhn

Some 83 percent of the British public want Tony Blair to challenge George Bush over the issue of climate change at next month’s G8 summit according to a Guardian/ICM opinion poll. But Blair has shown no sign of being willing to do this.

US officials have objected to passages in a British document on climate change that said, “our world is warming” and a section that attributted this “in large part to human activity”.

Phil Thornhill from the Campaign against Climate Change writes on how we can only rely on the movement to force action on climate change

The crucial date for the prospects of whether real action on climate would come out of this year’s G8 passed long ago. It was 2 November 2004—the date of the US election.

Within hours of the result it was quite clear that the fossil fuel corporate-funded lobby that so far has unfailingly determined Bush’s climate/energy policy was in triumphalist mode. It had become more confident and more bullishly outspoken than ever.

Myron Ebell, a man of no relevant scientific qualifications, but organising genius behind the anti-Kyoto climate change agreement lobby—funded by the Exxon oil company and Co—lashed out at David King, the British government’s chief scientific advisor. King had criticised the Bush government’s decision to pull out of the Kyoto agreement.

Ebell’s attack demonstrated that no amount of officially sanctioned scientific prestige could protect you from the attack dogs of the fossil fuel lobby, if you were saying something they didn’t want to hear.

Every week brings some leak about how the US is neutering the G8 programme on climate change. It’s clear that the lackeys of the Bush regime are on the offensive.

They have not just prevented any meaningful action being taken, but also pushed back the date when something might be done into the ever more distant future.

They are still—in the teeth of an avalanche of scientific evidence and opinion to the contrary—effectively denying the reality of human-induced climate change.

They are deleting any reference that implies this reality, so that they not only stop anything being done but undermine the argument for doing anything about it.

It might just be that they are holding this extreme line so that some cosmetic crumb that they let fall from the table in July looks like a significant concession and provides a fig leaf for Tony Blair’s special relationship credibility.

This is the appearance that he has been able to influence Bush’s climate policy. But don’t be fooled. The people who control Bush’s climate policy are not in a mood to give a meaningful inch.

We are faced with the prospect of the special-interest sponsored idiot who has been elected president of the US denying the entire population any chance of safeguarding its own future.

But the response of the rest of the world to this critical situation has been underwhelming.

The European Union leaders, the leaders of the global South, the pundits in the press, assorted worthies throughout the world all moan and murmur about it.

But no one it seems has the wit, the courage, the sense of urgency fuelled determination, to mount any meaningful challenge to this fateful misuse of power by those who hold sway in the world’s now uniquely dominant nation.

So it comes down to us. There is no one else. An opportunity is at hand. The next round of climate talks take place in December.

These are of special significance as they are the first since Kyoto came into force — for the ratifying nations not, of course, including the US.

They will be taking place in Montreal in Canada in December. Efforts are underfoot to use these as a rallying point for some kind of coordinated global response to the US-orchestrated international impotence on climate change.

In the Campaign against Climate Change we have been working through green networks, Social Forum networks and with some fantastic people in the US to bring about demonstrations around the world on 3 December.

We have the potential at last to begin to create that global tide of opinion that we so urgently need.

We need to challenge the fossil fuel corporate hierarchy of the US and to sweep away the obstacles that will inevitably be in the path of the radical action we need to avert the catastrophic destabilisation of our climate.

To have a chance of happpening it needs you. Come to the demonstration we’ll be organising in London on 3 December. Come to our national planning meeting in Oxford on 1 October.

You know the leaders won’t do anything to save the world at the G8 summit. It’s up to us.

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Sat 25 Jun 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1957
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