COP26: the summit of broken promises

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 1, 2021

The 26th climate change summit started last Sunday in Glasgow. As always, the heads of state will promise, hand on heart and with tears in their eyes, that they’ll do better in the future. The truth is they’re leading us to disaster.

In 2015, during the COP21 summit in Paris, they recognized the need to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. No state, except for Gambia, has kept that promise – France included, so Macron has nothing to brag about!

For nearly 30 years, heads of state have been meeting up with the aim of fighting global warming. And for 30 years greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. Even the financial promises to help developing countries in the South cope with the consequences of climate change haven’t been kept while hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted in speculation and swallowed up by the super-rich.

Commentators are saying it’s time to “stop talking and start doing something”. “We share the planet, so there needs to be more international cooperation”, they say. That’s true, but just look at how France and Great Britain are fighting over fishing rights, both using nationalist demagoguery.

To serve the capitalists, every government places the interests of its own industrialists, the race for profit and trade war above all else. They place them above wages, workers’ rights and living conditions. And they put them before their concerns about climate change.

That’s why Macron has postponed banning the use of glyphosate and authorized Total to drill five offshore oil rigs in French Guiana. And we certainly can’t trust Total! The company has been in possession of studies about the effects of hydrocarbon on global warming for fifty years and has hidden them from the public in order to keep its power as an oil giant...

Among other renunciations, Macron has refused to include taxes on heavy cargo trucks in the Climate Law and is reluctant to cut off air transport routes that can made by train. “That’s like denying companies the freedom to invest wherever they want. That’s really going too far!” This cry from the heart from a Macronist MP sums up the government leaders’ mindset: taking the slightest control over the decisions made by capitalists is sacrilege.

In other words, we should accept the decisions made in secret by the boards of directors of the capitalist corporations which are the biggest polluters, even though they are harming people and the planet!

As long as the capitalists’ interests prevail, workers and the general population will have to make most sacrifices. We are told, day in day out, that “everyone is responsible” and that we consume badly or too much. It’s a way of clearing the names of those in charge. And, above all, it’s a way of making us pay for the climate crisis, through such unfair measures as the ban on high-polluting vehicles in urban areas, the carbon tax and the hike in energy prices...

The responsible thing to do is to call into question the capitalist organization of the economy. All environmentalist policies will necessarily clash with the madness of capitalism and speculation. An example of this is that the current surge in the price of natural gas makes it more competitive to use coal to produce electricity. The great world powers have criticized China for opening new coal-fired power plants but are now doing the same thing. This year, the share of coal-produced electricity in Europe has jumped from from 14% to 19%.

In France, politicians are boasting about low greenhouse gas emissions, but we can’t trust them to control the nuclear plants which are ruled more by the laws of profit than by any concern for our safety.

We can only save the planet if we stop the race for profit and overthrow this system based on the private ownership of the major means of production, on competition and markets that are a source of chaos and incredible waste.

Such a fight is in the interests of all working-class people, as they are the first to suffer from this system. The climate crisis and the need to respond to it can only make us more determined to expropriate the big capitalist corporations, run them collectively and plan the economy on a worldwide scale. It’s the only way to satisfy the needs of humanity, now and in the future.

Nathalie Arthaud