Climate change poses a real and current threat to human existence. In recent years we have seen rising sea levels and a rise in the number of extreme weather events. In 2015, 196 governments signed a treaty which outlined plans to lower carbon emissions and try and reduce the world’s average temperature.
However, it has been seen that even if the targets from the Paris treaty were met that the world would still be on course for a 2.7 degree rise in temperature since pre-industrial times. Even more recently we have seen the UN’s climate change experts admit that a new ‘mitigation’ target of 1.5 degrees needs to be met but, it is thought by many experts that even this target will not prevent drastic climate change. With just 100 companies being responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions it is a wonder if the global capitalist class will ever think about the heavy consequences their drive for profit has.
Young people worldwide have taken a stand against the auctioning off of their future and have said enough is enough. In Belgium the city of Leuven saw twelve thousand school students take to the streets in these protests, and a following protest of 35 thousand school students on a Thursday was followed by a one hundred thousand strong protest that following Saturday.
We do not have to accept the status quo
These acts of mass protest are effective in gaining concessions as was seen in Belgium with the movement taking its first preverbal head in the Flemish regional minister, Joke Schauvliege, who got caught up in a controversy around lies that she told about the movement being targeted specifically at her and that the protests were a ‘conspiracy’. This sort of right-wing, reactionary approach to climate change is rare, however it has also been shared by other reactionary politicians such as Donald Trump. Trump has been quoted in saying “It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”
Join the Protest! 11am Friday 15th Feb, Belfast City Hall
The protest at Belfast City Hall has been organised by youthstrike4climate
There has been an international day of action called for the 15th of March around the topic of climate change, now is the time to act and help to save our planet. If there is to be an effective day of action worldwide, trade unions, student bodies and left-wing parties alike must all get behind the movement and mobilise to build upon the work that has been done in countries such as Belgium and Sweden.
System Change not Climate Change
“As long as you do not concentrate on what is necessary, but only on what is politically possible, there is no hope. (…) We must leave fossil fuels in the ground and we must focus on justice. And if solutions within the system are impossible to find, then perhaps we have to change the system itself,” These are the words of Greta Thunburg in her speech to the UN Climate change conference. These words hit home when for decades environmental activists have begged “world leaders” at the UN year after year to take action and have been met with resolute inaction. Capitalism as a system acts only in the interests of short term profiteering and is incapable of putting the interest of the planet before profit.
To reverse the damage that has been done there must be systematic change. Socialism is necessary to solve the climate crisis. We need a planned economy which takes into account the needs, protection and conservation of our planet and climate and utilizes the vast resources and wealth which currently rests in the hands of the few to implement a quick and effective transfer to renewable energy which would help to reverse the detrimental damage that global capitalism has done to the climate.
This does not mean as some critics of moving towards renewable energy say, that there will be mass job losses in the energy sector. Only on the basis of Capitalism are the interests of workers pitted against the interests of the planet. In reality we have the same interests. On the basis of Socialism workers in the energy sector could be retrained and deployed to work in the renewable energy sector on the basis of a shorter working week with no loss of pay. This is possible when the driving force behind energy generation is need not profit.
Let these international protests be a rally call to all those who want to live in a clean and healthy world, where the needs of working-class people and the planet are met.
By Peter McGregor, School Student and Socialist Youth member