By Miguel Lamas, editor of International Correspondence magazine and a leader of the IWU-FI
4 November 2021
US President Joe Biden fell asleep in his chair in the first session while someone was reporting. When Biden awoke from his nap, he criticised the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, outside the door, Greta Thunberg, the young environmental leader, shouted with a megaphone, “changes will not to come from in there but from the street”, “enough of the blah, blah, blah”.
These symbolic anecdotes show the mockery of humanity that is the new COP26 circus.
The COP26 (Climate Summit 26) is meeting in Glasgow (Scotland) from 1 to 12 November, with the presence of most of the world’s states and under the sponsorship of the UN.
This is an annual event (suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic) at which governments discuss their concerns about global warming, and commit to actions to prevent it from exceeding 1.5 degrees since the pre-industrial era (i.e. since 1850). However, the agreements between the previous 25 summits have either not been fulfilled or have turned out to be ridiculously insufficient.
25 climate summits have already taken place and both the UN and almost all the states of the world recognise the seriousness of the problem. However, because of the interests of world capitalism and its gigantic multinationals, the urgent and fundamental measures required to prevent global warming have not been taken.
The summits committed themselves to a global process to abandon gradually fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) and replace them with other forms of non-polluting energy (wind, solar, water, etc.). But in ten years, the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix is almost the same: from 80.3 per cent in 2009 to 80.2 per cent in 2019. Added to this is the use in many countries of so-called “biofuels”, which means burning plants and which also emit CO2. As a result, global CO2 emissions continue to rise inexorably in absolute terms (except during the 2008 crisis and the 2020 pandemic).
The natural cycle is through plants, which release oxygen, which absorbed that CO2. But the depletion of forests and the enormous excess of CO2 produced by big capitalist industries broke that natural cycle. And the excess CO2 builds up inexorably year by year. The cause of this disaster is the capitalist-imperialist system that produces with the axis of private profit and not for the benefit of humanity.
According to another UN scientific report from February this year, a 45 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is needed by 2030 to avoid catastrophic warming, and at present, the plans of the capitalist governments will only be enough to reduce emissions by 1 per cent!
Among the unfulfilled commitments of summits 10 years ago was also to help semi-colonial countries by 2020 to make energy changes of 100 billion dollars a year. This is another ridiculous undertaking, knowing that the expenditure on arms in the world alone is 15 times that amount (and almost all of it from the imperialist countries), but it was not fulfilled either!
And now they say it will be by 2025 but as loans! Meanwhile, 50 per cent of the world’s population handles only 7 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. And the richest 10 per cent, concentrated in the imperialist countries, handle 50 per cent. And the world’s poor are subjected to starvation, plunder, capital flight and crushing foreign debt.
From the streets!
As Greta Thunberg said, the changes will come from the struggle in the streets, because the capitalist governments and the multinationals they answer to are not willing to make them.
Today, there is already a technological development of alternative forms of energy that could drastically decrease fossil fuels. But these energy changes are costly. And the multinationals that profit from environmental depredation have shown that they are unwilling to make them because they do not want to decrease their profits. Only some of them are limiting themselves to making new deals with “green” capitalism with state subsidies, but most of the big capitals are keeping their investments in oil and even in coal, which is the most polluting. China, which is the country that emits the most CO2, now has an energy deficit and is once again increasing its coal production. But most of the European, American and Japanese multinationals manufacture their products in China and use the energy from this coal.
So it is very clear that there will be no change unless struggle imposes it. Fundamental changes will be achieved by an international struggle to bring about working people’s governments that start a socialist change that expropriates the transnationals and makes international economic planning for energy change, also eliminating useless or harmful expenditures, foremost the huge military budgets.
But, on that road, the struggle is now, together with millions of people from all over the world who are fighting to prevent environmental disasters.
From the IWU-FI, we are the revolutionary socialist sector of this broad movement in defence of life on the planet. The IWU-FI supports and promotes all popular and youth struggles in defence of natural resources and to confront the plunder and depredation of nature. We raise slogans such as no to the pollution of water, air, land and sea; no to the destruction of jungles and forests. No to the destruction of nature by the multinationals and their policy of imperialist plunder. And we call for the unity of action of trade unions and workers’ centres, as well as organisations of the left, women, human rights, peasants, indigenous people, young students and environmental movements. We are trying to mobilise against the multinational oil and mining companies, Bayer Monsanto in agriculture, and the governments that respond to them, the direct beneficiaries of environmental depredation.