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Climate change: Summit for nothing
Ahead of the United Nations summit, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in 161 countries to demand immediate action on climate change. An estimated 400,000 marched in New York City last Sunday where the summit was being held and a reported 40,000 in London.
While the 'great and the good' were prominent on the New York demo calling for internationally binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions, the likes of eco-politicians such as Al Gore do not explain how this can be met within global capitalism. This isn't surprising when the NY demo sponsors included corporations like BP, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
Targets agreed by the United Nations up to now have either been missed or have been set too low to make any meaningful change. And politicians like David Cameron or Barack Obama remain beholden to 'big oil' and the energy giants. Tinkering with capitalism is inadequate. We need system change to stop climate change.
That was the message Socialist Alternative Seattle councillor Kshama Sawant spelt out when she spoke at the New York protest. Kshama, was on a question and answer panel which included Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and Bernie Sanders and was attended by 900 people in a church in Manhattan (see the full video at socialistalternative.org).
Last week, the Socialist reported that record amounts of the principal greenhouse gas - carbon dioxide - are being released into the atmosphere by the little regulated, profit hungry energy companies, as well as transport, agro-chemical and other manufacturing industries.
The consequent increase in heat and energy in the planet is adding to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as floods and severe droughts. In turn, agriculture is being adversely affected leading to price hikes in basic foods and increasing the suffering of billions of poor people globally.
Immediate binding international action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is vital to stabilise the climate but this is unlikely to happen on a capitalist basis where the cornerstone of a competitive system of production is profit.
That is why only international socialist planning of industry, based on nationalised and democratically run economies, can start to mitigate the environmental damage generated by capitalism.
In The Socialist 24 September 2014:
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