In December the world’s rulers will meet in Copenhagen to discuss what they will do when the notably unsuccessful Kyoto Protocol expires. They won’t be alone. Lobbyists from the aviation, petrochemical and mining industries will be pressurising them in defence of their “right” to alter the planet’s climate by pumping millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Writing in this issue Phil Thornhill of the Campaign Against Climate Change says of Kyoto, “it was so weak and so full of holes that it was not going to achieve any significant concrete results”. In Copenhagen the stakes are much higher. Earlier this year Kim Carstensen of the WWF said, “We are at the point where our climate system is starting to spin out of control… the latest science confirms that we are now seeing devastating consequences of warming that were not expected to hit for decades .”
Climate change will be a major element in the class struggle nationally and globally in the coming years. It is the world’s poorest who will suffer most and in the richer countries it will be working people, women and the vulnerable whom capitalism will try and force to pay the price for adapting to climate change. In Peru, as Derek Wall reports, clashes are taking place between a government intent on destroying forests in search of oil while the global levels of malnutrition are rising.
In Britain the Vestas closure was an indication of just how unserious New Labour is about planning in a coherent way to create the sorts of jobs and industrial base that will be required if the economy is to become much less reliant on CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast it effectively pours huge subsidies into the airline companies and is willing to force through airport expansion in the teeth of opposition from popular local campaigns.