Capitalism is destroying the planet – socialist change to end climate change

Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) stall during 3 November climate change protest, Glasgow

It’s been three years since the UN suggested 2030 as the cut-off date to prevent climate catastrophe. Since then – who can say we are on the path away from ecological disaster?

Understanding is growing that to stop climate change, radical transformation of society is needed.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency suggests $4 trillion-a-year investment is needed to generate secure clean energy. What capitalist government, and what profit-seeking corporation, will ever make this level of investment? If we wait for the ruling classes to make serious change, we will be waiting for climate catastrophe.

It’s fair to say most people feel some responsibility to help prevent climate change. Most people also recognise that a commitment to recycling and buying plastic-free products is not enough. People are beginning to realise that a mass movement from the bottom up is necessary to achieve genuine change.

Tens of thousands will be protesting at COP26 in Glasgow and elsewhere on 6 November. The trade unions represent 6.5 million workers in the UK with the potential power to bring society to a standstill. A glimpse of this strength can be seen in the workers’ strikes taking place in Scotland during the COP26 conference.

Unity of movements

Concerned for their future, hundreds of thousands of school students have poured onto the streets in the last couple of years to demand climate action, winning huge public support. We need unity of youth movements with workers to demand what is needed to end climate change.

Around 15% of Britain’s carbon emissions come from housing. The movement against climate change must demand public spending to upgrade old, inefficient gas heating systems and insulation, with the work carried out by well-paid, qualified workers with trade union recognition.

Rather than punitive road taxes that make workers’ commutes unaffordable, and cuts to bus and train services, the climate movement must demand free and accessible public transport.

The movement must demand that the wealthiest in society be made to pay, not the poorest. By nationalising the energy companies, and placing them under democratic public control, investment could be geared towards a quick transition to renewable energy. As part of a socialist plan based on democratic public ownership of the banks and big companies, investment into kick-starting well-paid and secure green jobs could provide a decent future for young people and the planet.

The situation is simple – those who currently run society are running the planet into the ground. As German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg once said – it is “socialism or barbarism”. It is ‘socialism or climate catastrophe.’

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November 2021