The Socialist 17 November 2021 |
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Sunak's climate finance agenda typifies capitalism's COP26 failure
Demonstrating for action against climate change, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Having reportedly banned young climate change activists from attending his talk at COP26, Chancellor Rishi Sunak - the UK's richest MP - went on to capture the headlines with his speech on a 'Finance Alliance for Net Zero'.
This 'alliance' is meant to ensure that by 2050, 450 corporations, representing $130 trillion of assets, will be 'aligned' with net-zero emissions.
Incidentally that's 40% of total global assets, indicating the enormous economic power these giant companies wield. Indeed, four years ago, it was pointed out that just 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of CO2 emissions since 1988.
But only a third of the assets earmarked by the alliance will be devoted to low-carbon investments in the next decade. And while this $43 trillion is a huge sum, it's estimated that $100 trillion of investment is needed in the next three decades to meet the net-zero goal.
Also, to underscore the contradiction in this initiative, there are no restrictions on these corporations investing in new fossil-fuel projects.
And we've been here before. Back in 2009, US president Barack Obama announced that the major capitalist countries had pledged to provide $100 billion a year to low-income countries in the form of climate change investment. In 2019, the G20 actually provided $80 billion. Of this, only $20 billion was earmarked for assisting people to adjust to the impact of climate change. And only 7% of this money went to the 46 poorest countries.
And to rub salt into the wounds, most of that money was in the form of loans which have to be repaid with interest. In other words, the countries most affected by climate change are obliged to accumulate more debt to finance the disasters that the advanced capitalist countries have caused!
Meanwhile, since 2015, the G20 countries (comprising the world's largest economies) have spent $3.3 trillion on subsidising their fossil-fuel industries.
As Chancellor, Sunak has been accused of blocking green measures and reportedly opposed his own government's 'net-zero' agenda.
In his March budget Sunak announced a 'super deduction' tax relief measure. This was seen as another tax break for fossil-fuel companies.
Overall, he allocated £145 million for environmental measures - a mere 0.01% of GDP (total economic output) - while committing a massive £40 billion to policies that will increase greenhouse gas emissions.
In contrast to the Tory government's green agenda bullshit, a future socialist government would recognise that 'you can't plan what you don't control, and you can't control what you don't own'.
Therefore it would nationalise the commanding heights of the economy - the fossil-fuels/energy sector, along with the banks, other major financial institutions, large-scale agribusiness, transport, etc.
Under public ownership - and drawing upon the huge accumulated resources created by the labour of the working class but presently owned by the capitalist class - a sustainable plan of production would be democratically drawn up and agreed. We could then rapidly, with no job losses or pay cuts, justly transition to a green, net-zero carbon economy.