Africa-Press – Namibia. HUMANITY WILL have to end the capital system quickly or we will go extinct.
This is the dire warning of another leak from the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that points out the need for “just degrowth” and for moving away from the capitalist model of never-ending growth in order to prevent planetary collapse.
The obsession with ‘economic growth’ by big business is placing our blue planet in grave danger because resources are finite. Furthermore, this ‘growth’ is fossil fuel driven. The Earth is being destroyed because of the luxury consumption of the top 10%.
The recent United Nations climate change conference (Conference of Parties) in Glasgow once again showed that we cannot depend on the elite to protect Mother Earth. After 26 conferences, it ought to be obvious that it is a waste of time to engage the ruling elites, and that mass action is the way forward.
COP26 was content to focus only on coal, but not on oil and gas. In other words, it blamed India and China for the ecological crisis, and let the Global North off the hook. If anything, the conference continued the great pretence that the private sector – most in fact from the fossil fuel industry at COP26 – has the solutions with their profit-driven funding models, while simultaneously providing a vaguely defined ‘net zero’ carbon emissions goal without any action plan.
It is important to note that ‘degrowth is about the super-rich; it is concerned with ending the overconsumption of the billionaires. What is urgently required is a drastic scaling down of the lifestyles of the wealthy. This would include a radical reduction in global aviation, shipping and private vehicle use, and ceasing the production of luxury goods such as private jets, super yachts, opulent houses, SUVs, etc.
Everyone should live a simple lifestyle. A simple life means less energy demands. So, the Global North in particular must decrease their biophysical impact and gross domestic product (GDP). If nothing else, rich countries should be held accountable for climate reparations for, say, the rising sea levels of the small islands and the cleaning up of radioactive waste.
What working people – especially in the Global South – need is the egalitarian redistribution of basic goods and making possible the local production of such necessities. It is worthwhile reminding ourselves that there are already enough resources to satisfy the basic needs of everyone, but ultimately (carbon-free) production systems should be localised everywhere.
Green capitalism is not the solution. Green hydrogen, for instance, would only create a few jobs and the problem of energy storage has not been resolved yet. Hydrogen was part of the greenwashing of the wealthy at COP26 so that it creates an impression that they are doing something meaningful to save the planet. Energy tycoons would only allow ‘green’ technologies without any change to their economic model.
In any case, Namibia’s ruling elite is being disingenuous about their green credentials because they have permitted drilling for oil and gas in the sensitive Okavango basin. If anything, any oil and gas exploration should have been banned a long time ago.
POLITICS AND PRIORITIES
One technical solution to decarbonising the energy sector might be thorium-based small modular reactors. This option is being explored by India and China, and allows for zero greenhouse emissions, but the challenge remains how to counter a toxic footprint.
Renewables such as solar panels and wind turbines unfortunately require fossil fuel driven investment to become effective enough for energy needs, while reforestation would have a limited impact on the damage already done to our planet.
However, in the final analysis, the solution to the climate breakdown is a political question. This means rapidly ending the political power of big business.
Working people will have to mobilise for a just transition to a green post-capital society. This should include setting up co-operatives, and fewer working hours for everyone.
It is clear that ‘economic growth’ cannot be limitless and that we ought to democratise the economic system (democratise the financial sector, tax wealth and inheritance, and so forth) to serve all humanity, rather than the current economic model that operates for the luxury consumption of the super-rich and, in the process, devastates the planet.
We must move away from GDP as the measure of growth and instead focus on ‘co-operation and well-being’. This means giving priority to jobs in care work, as well as the agro-ecological and decentralised energy sectors. But there will be no jobs on a planet without humans.