Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2480

We’re halfway to catastrophe—but the blinkers are firmly on

This article is over 8 years, 7 months old
The Paris climate summit may fall short, but a movement can grow out of opposition to it, says Martin Empson
Issue 2480
Time to Act climate demonstration in London earlier this year
Time to Act climate demonstration in London earlier this year (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Up to 122 million more people will be in extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of global warming, according to a World Bank report released last week.

Hundreds of thousands of people already die every year due to the effects of droughts, crop failures, floods, severe weather and other effects of global warming. Many millions more are at risk.

Climate change is intensifying the inequality capitalism produces.

And the world is getting hotter. The World Meteorological Office (WMO) said that global temperatures are now, on average, one degree celsius higher than pre-industrial temperatures.

That’s halfway to the two degree rise that countries are supposed to stay below in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

As Michel Jarraud, secretary?general of the WMO, said, “We are moving into uncharted territory at frightening speed”.

As we get closer to the climate talks in Paris reports reinforce what we already know—that global warming is getting worse and its impacts will hit the poorest first and hardest.


Another report in the science journal Nature concluded that “climate change will reduce average income in the poorest 40 percent of countries by 75 percent in 2100”.

In the face of this it might be expected that the representatives of 190 countries gathering in Paris at the start of December will agree urgent action to reduce emissions.

Yet it looks like any agreements made will miss the crucial two degree target.

Poorer nations are demanding that richer countries also provide more finance for them to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of already existing warming.

But this is being resisted. That means the protests taking place in the West during the summit are even more important.

So the key protests in Britain are demonstrations in Cardiff and Glasgow on Saturday 28 November and London on Sunday 29 November.

The Paris conference is likely to lead to an agreement that falls far short of what is needed.

But the protest movement that rises in opposition to the sellout can gain confidence and the strength to fight on.

Climate activist Iara Kaiser

Climate activist Iara Kaiser

Let’s seize this opportunity to build a fight against the climate wreckers

Across the world people are getting organised to protest during the summit. Demonstrations have been called in cities including New York and Berlin on 28 and 29 November as the summit begins.

Students are encouraged to skip school as part of a global Climate Strike involving groups from Benin and China to Zambia and Nepal. In Britain the protests are backed by over 60 national organisations—from trade unions and the National Union of Students to NGOs.

Local groups and union branches have booked and begun to fill coaches, such as the Portsmouth City Unison union branch.

Around 100 people attended a mobilising meeting at Manchester University on Thursday of last week. Other meetings brought 50 people to York and 90 to Chesterfield.

The high point had been set to be in Paris itself, with plans for mass rallies, debates and widespread civil disobedience.

But the French government’s state of emergency called after the Paris attacks last week could affect the demo. It must not be allowed to get away with using terrorism as an excuse to defend the polluters who are destroying the environment. If the demo is banned, those who oppose climate chaos must be prepared to defy it.

This is not the first time climate summits have been met with international protests.

The last high water mark was around the Copenhagen talks in 2009, when the deals that will be revised in Paris were made.

Then many had high hopes in the talks—and particularly in new US president Barack Obama. They were disoriented when those hopes were betrayed.

But now many protesters are ready for a longer fight.

Hastings student Iara Kaiser told Socialist Worker, “I don’t think anything is going to come out of the summit—that’s exactly why it’s important to protest.

“People can never get their hopes up about politicians. They talk all high and mighty about how they are going to do something. But there needs to be a lot of investment that they aren’t prepared to do.

“The people who have the power to change that are the protesters and activists who can put pressure on them.”

Judith Orr

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