This weekend saw a further Labour retreat from their pledge to fight to avert climate catastrophe. In June, shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, ditched a keynote pledge she made to the Labour Party conference in 2021 to borrow £28bn every year until 2030 in order to deliver Labour’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions while creating new jobs and industries as part of its Green Prosperity Plan.

This weekend the papers reported on the muted response from Starmer to Ed Miliband’s presentation to Cabinet, with proposals on climate and net zero designed to bring ‘hope and change.’ An unnamed Labour source told the Sunday Times, ‘Sir Keir thanked him for his presentation but said he wasn’t interested in hope and change. He was more interested in creating sustainable new jobs to replace jobs in old sectors that were being lost. He then said he was not interested in tree huggers, before adding to everyone’s surprise, “In fact, I hate tree huggers”‘.

Rachel Reeves was also in action at the weekend, attacking environmental protesters such as Just Stop Oil for being ‘rude’ and causing ‘needless disruption to people’s lives’. She went on to say there are ‘better ways to tackle the climate emergency than stopping working people getting to their jobs’. She ought to see how that message goes down in parts of the world where flooding and wildfires are destroying people’s livelihoods and in some cases their lives. 61,000 people died due to extreme weather in Europe last year. We can only guess at the death toll in more vulnerable and poorer countries.

To justify their roll-back on climate change funding Labour argues that they will need to borrow less if they create a stable economic background for private capital to invest in green projects, and government borrowing will be used to support those projects which private capital judges too risky to tackle on its own. In other words, the Green Prosperity Plan is all about prosperity for big business. They get to cherry pick the most lucrative projects and will be subsidised by government borrowing to finance investment in less profitable but equally necessary projects. So the market forces which have been driving climate change since the Industrial Revolution are the only tool they have to tackle climate change!

At a time when all the evidence points to a world heading for climate catastrophe Labour has made it plain that the economic and financial stability of capitalism has to come first. Globally, June was the hottest month on record. Last week we had probably the hottest three days in modern history when the average temperature worldwide was 17 degrees Celsius. But in many places in America, China and India it was over 40 degrees Celsius with a top temperature of 44 degrees in China.

Sea temperatures are at an all time high. The Antarctic ice is melting. Floods, hurricanes and deadly heatwaves are increasing in frequency and intensity and the reason is well-known. We have to stop greenhouse gases from growing by ceasing to burn fossil fuels and put an end to deforestation.

How to do it? According to the US Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, governments ‘need to work together with the private sector and philanthropy’. No mention of workers or unions or the rest of society. We need system change not climate change, and it up to us to do something about it. Every strike, every picket line, every demonstration, every act of resistance that contributes to the class struggle is a contribution to ending the climate crisis. Go forth and organise!

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One thought on “Labour’s Climate Betrayal”
  1. While capital is the only game anyone is interested in playing, we will continue hell for leather towards disaster re climate change. The recent report that complained that scientists had failed to convince politicians of the dangers of climate change appeared to omit the corruption that politicians are partial to from the very entities that create and further the ravages of climate change, the oligarchs.
    A change from capital and gambling of stock markets has to be replaced by a system where the needs of society are first and foremost in the thinking of all corporations and oligarchs without exception.

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