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By Esther Vivas
Green capitalism is targeting the climate change race, providing a series of technological solutions (nuclear energy, capture of carbon from the atmosphere for storage, agrofuels, etc.) that will generate greater social and environmental impacts. These are false solutions to climate change that try to hide the structural causes that have led us to the current crisis situation and that seek to do business with it, at the same time that they raise the contradiction between the short-term calculation of capital and long rates of ecological balance.
Climate change is, today, an undeniable reality. The political, social and media echo of the Copenhagen summit in December 2009 was good proof of this. A summit that showed the inability of the capitalist system itself to give a credible response to a crisis that it has created. Green capitalism is targeting the climate change race, providing a series of technological solutions (nuclear energy, capture of carbon from the atmosphere for storage, agrofuels, etc.) that will generate greater social and environmental impacts. These are false solutions to climate change that try to hide the structural causes that have led us to the current crisis situation and that seek to do business with it, at the same time that they raise the contradiction between the short-term calculation of capital and long rates of ecological balance.
In this context, a movement capable of challenging the dominant discourse of green capitalism, pointing out the impact and responsibility of the current model of capitalist production, distribution and consumption, and linking the global climate threat with daily social problems is urgent. Copenhagen has so far been the greatest expression of the climate justice movement, coinciding precisely with the tenth anniversary of the mobilizations against the WTO in Seattle. A protest that, under the slogan "Let's change the system, not the climate", expresses this diffuse relationship between social and climate justice, between social crisis and ecological crisis. But the success of the protests in Copenhagen contrasts with the weakness of the demonstrations worldwide, with a few exceptions such as London.
The current crisis raises the urgent need to change the grassroots world and do so from a radical anti-capitalist and eco-socialist perspective. Anti-capitalism and climate justice are two battles that have to go hand in hand. Any perspective of rupture with the current economic model that does not take into account the centrality of the ecological crisis is doomed to failure and any ecological perspective without an anti-capitalist orientation, of rupture with the current system, will remain on the surface of the problem and in the end it can end up being an instrument at the service of green marketing policies.
Stopping climate change implies modifying the current model of production, distribution and consumption. Superficial and cosmetic touch-ups are not worth it. The solutions to the ecological crisis go through touching the foundations of the current capitalist system. If we want the climate not to change, it is necessary to change the system. Hence, the need to have a true ecosocialist perspective, or ecocommunist as Daniel Bensaïd pointed out in one of his last articles.
Likewise, the theses of green neo-Malthusianism that blame the countries of the South for their high population rates and that seek to control the body of women, undermining the right to decide about our body, must be fought. Fighting climate change implies facing poverty: the greater social inequality, the more climatic vulnerability. It is necessary to reconvert productive sectors with serious social and environmental impacts (military, automobile, extractive industries, etc.), creating employment in socially and ecologically fair sectors such as organic farming, public services (health, education, transportation), among others.
Ending climate change implies betting on the right of peoples to food sovereignty. The current agroindustrial model (relocated, intensive, kilometric, petro-dependent) is one of the main generators of greenhouse gases. Betting on organic, local farming and short marketing circuits allow, as La Via Campesina says, to cool the planet. Likewise, we must integrate the demands of the native peoples, the control of their lands and natural assets, and their worldview and respect for the "pachamama", the "mother earth", and the defense of "good living." Valuing these contributions that pose a new type of relationship between humanity and nature is key to facing climate change and the commodification of life and the planet.
From a North-South perspective, climate justice implies the unconditional cancellation of the external debt of the countries of the South, an illegal and illegitimate debt, and claiming the recognition of a social, historical and ecological debt of the North with respect to the South, the result of centuries of plunder and exploitation. In cases of catastrophe, it is necessary to promote “popular aid” mechanisms. We have seen how climate change increases the vulnerability of the popular sectors, especially in the countries of the South. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are two of the most recent cases. Faced with these threats, international solidarity networks of grassroots social movements are necessary that allow the channeling of immediate and effective aid to local populations. The initiative cannot be left in the hands of an international “humanitarianism” devoid of political content.
The fight against climate change involves combating the current model of industrial production, relocated, “just on time”, massive, dependent on fossil resources, etc. The union bureaucracies follow and legitimize the policies of "green capitalism" with the farce that "green technologies" create jobs and generate greater prosperity. This myth needs to be dismantled. The trade union left must question the current model of unlimited growth, betting on another model of "development" in accordance with the finite resources of the planet. The demands for the environment and against climate change have to be a central axis of militant unionism. Trade unionists cannot see environmentalists as their enemies and vice versa. We all suffer the consequences of climate change and we need to act collectively.
It is false to think that we can combat climate change only by changing individual attitudes, and more so when half of the world population lives in "chronic underconsumption", and it is also false to think that we can fight climate change only with answers technological and scientific. Structural changes are necessary in the models of production of goods, energy, etc. In this direction, the initiatives that from the local point of view propose practical alternatives to the dominant model of consumption, production, energy ... have a demonstrative and awareness-raising character that it is essential to support.
By its nature, talking about how to face climate change implies discussing strategy, self-organization, planning and the tasks that those and those of us who consider ourselves anti-capitalist have ahead of us.
Synthesis of the intervention of Esther alive at the 16th World Congress of the 4th International in Newport, Belgium, March 2010.