Needed: a socialist ‘deal’ for the environment

BARACK OBAMA put the environment at the centre of his US presidential election programme by pledging to bring in a ‘Green New Deal’ that could tackle the threat of climate change while generating many new jobs to combat the growing economic recession.

His proposal to spend $150 billion over ten years to develop new green technologies echoes the New Deal introduced by Roosevelt, the US President in the 1930s, who pumped money into the economy to try to counteract the effects of the economic depression.

An urgent programme to tackle climate change is clearly desperately needed, since the latest scientific evidence points to a rapidly deteriorating situation. The rate of melting of the polar icecaps is exceeding already dire predictions. Climate scientists now say that it is ‘one minute to midnight’ before decisive action needs to be taken if global warming’s worst effects are to be avoided.

A huge programme of public spending on the environment could introduce green technology rapidly and create millions of jobs in the process worldwide, because the technology will be relatively labour-intensive.

Roosevelt’s New Deal had a minimal effect on ending the 1930s depression. Obama’s green new deal will probably have even less impact on climate change. The vast majority of people would prefer money to be spent on fixing the planet rather than on bailing out speculators and bankers, but Obama’s deal relies on continuing with a Kyoto-style ‘cap and trade’ treaty, which since it was introduced eleven years ago has been a fiasco.

It has totally failed to tackle climate change. In fact, since Kyoto came in, the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming have sharply accelerated upwards because the treaty had huge loopholes built into it, that firms exploited to avoid paying any penalty if they exceeded their pollution target.

Also, just as importantly, the world’s biggest emitter historically, the USA, that accounts for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gases, refused to take part in the system because US firms stood to lose by far the most.

Will Barack Obama’s election make a difference? He pledged that the USA will join a revamped Kyoto-style permit trading system and further, that it really will ‘make the polluter pay’ this time.

The indications, however, are not good. Climate sceptics in the US Congress already cite the economic crisis as a reason to dump action on the environment, claiming it would ‘push the economy over a cliff’. Even a Senator who sponsored a new bill to include the US in a Kyoto-type scheme says that action will now have to be put off.

This opposition by the big corporations and their government mouthpieces reflects the brutal reality of the capitalist system, particularly in a time of economic crisis. For them, profits are what matters, and the multinational companies that will lose profits if action is taken to tackle climate change, who form by far the majority, will fight ruthlessly to undermine any proposed ‘new deal’ on global warming that has teeth.

Firms battle to survive on a world scale, and national governments represent the interests of the monopolies inside their borders. So any ‘new deal’ that remains inside the capitalist system will be a cosmetic deal. Openly or not, it will allow the culprits, the multi-nationals, to exploit loopholes to keep polluting, since meaningful agreement between competing capitalist nations is impossible.

What is needed is an alternative to capitalism, a Socialist Green Deal, that will take control out of the hands of capitalist institutions and the firms they represent and for the first time will permit the genuine international co-operation needed to tackle global warming.

Such a Deal must include the nationalisation, under democratic control by workers and the community, of the energy generating companies, a huge investment programme to develop public transport and research into improved green technologies.

Pete Dickenson, Socialist Party England & Wales, 3 Dec 08

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Action needed to stop the health cuts

Next Article

Sammy Wilson bans climate change!!

Related Posts

Irish Ship to Gaza Sabotaged

It has emerged that the Irish Ship to Gaza, part of the Freedom Flotilla 2, has been sabotaged whilst sitting in harbour preparing to sale. The damage, which was potentially life threatening, is so serious that the ship will not be able to sale, but fortunately some of those on board can move to the Italian ship that is part of the flotilla. Here one of those on the flotilla, Socialist Party MEP,Paul Murphy responds to this latest development.

Divide and rule – Labour & partition in Irish History

Introduction
The partition of Ireland was a conscious act on the part of British imperialism chiefly intended to divide the working class along sectarian lines. As the recent troubles have made the publication of works on Irish history more profitable, a host of academics have presented ever newer accounts of the division of the country. In the midst of this welter of publication the above straightforward fact about partition has often been lost sight of. In particular this has been the case among those who have spent their energies seeking some justification to rationalize and excuse the division of Ireland, so that they, in turn, may excuse themselves from opposing this division. Above all, this is true of those who justify partition with the completely false idea that the division of the country somehow reflects the existence of two separate nations in Ireland.

 

Chile – Huge earthquake kills hundreds and many missing

Police action proceeds against victims, instead of helping

Below we carry a short report from Socialismo Revolucionario (the Chilean section of the CWI) concerning the devastating earthquake that hit Chile, last weekend. Further reports of the earthquake and its consequences will follow.