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Climate rebellion must beware of false friends

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Issue 2675
The climate movement is inspiring - but some want to limit its actions
The climate movement is inspiring – but some want to limit its actions (Pic: Guy Smallman)

False friends are clustering around the climate movement. They know that millions of people across the world support climate action to avert catastrophe. Instead of denying the need for it, they pose as sympathetic but “reasonable”.

The bosses’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry reacted to Extinction Rebellion (XR) by saying climate change required “real solutions from the government and business—as well as changes to the way each of us live—right now”.

“Protesters should now focus their efforts on working constructively with others to implement realistic plans to tackle the climate crisis,” it added.

By “realistic” they mean not interfering with profits and the power of the corporations.

Big business can cloak itself in green clothing, but its overriding obsession is accumulation.

There cannot be the sort of fundamental change we need in a world dominated by the priorities of billionaires and multinationals.

They will put profit first even if it destroys humanity.

Oil and gas companies have approved over £40 billion in investments in the last year. They don’t anticipate any serious curbs on fossil fuels any time soon.

A spokesperson for London mayor Sadiq Khan said on Monday that Khan “totally agrees with the protesters’ view that the government needs to stop ignoring the climate emergency”.

“However, he will not support illegal action,” they added.


But that limits our resistance to only taking action that the authorities decide is acceptable.

And we know they use restrictions on protests, anti-union laws, surveillance and trumped-up charges to hobble the fightback.

Laws that are driving us to extinction—and that protect a world dominated by austerity and racism—have to be confronted.

The real allies of those inspired by XR are the school students and the seven million climate strikers globally who took action recently.

We need a combination of militancy, defiance and mass action. We need more strikes because that’s where the source of profits can be turned off most effectively by direct workers’ action.

Neither climate change nor the resistance are going away. Winning requires escalation of all the aspects of the revolt.

But it has to be directed at capitalism, the system whose twisted logic menaces us all.

And there is no national solution to climate change.We must take on a world divided by borders and competing nation states. It’s crucial that the protests have globalised because the solution has to be international.

Climate change is a struggle that intersects with many other struggles. It can’t be separated from the fight for workers’ power and socialist change.

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