SPEAKING recently Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued yet another stark warning to the planet about the level of threat we now face. “The scientific evidence is unequivocal,” he said “Climate change has caused substantial damages, and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems.”

This renewed warning comes as Scotland’s claim to be environmental leaders lay in tatters after the UK’s Committee for Climate Change report noted:

“The Scottish Government has committed to extraordinary ambition to decarbonise the economy over the next decade, with a welcome focus on a fair and just transition. Key milestones are ambitious, but there is no clear delivery plan on how they will be achieved and no quantification of how policies combine to give the emissions reduction required to meet Scotland’s 2030 target.”

Whilst the press are, rightly, pointing to the inadequacies in Scotland’s plans, they seem to have forgotten that in June the same committee said of the UK (for which read Westminster):

“In targets, the UK is indeed a world leader. However, this Progress Report reveals that, despite important achievements in renewable energy and electric vehicles, the Government is failing in much of its implementation.”

The fact is that most, if not all countries, have set ambitious targets for reduction which none have a realistic chance of reaching. The World Resources Institute estimates that, even if countries met their current targets, it would result in 3˚C of warming, rather than the 2˚C or target of 1.5˚C that nations had agreed in Paris in 2015. In other words, and to quote Greta Thunberg, all we are getting is blah! blah! blah!

For socialists it is clear that we cannot meet these commitments based on a system that is dominated by economic growth. Most political parties set their stall out very clearly. They claim to be committed to net zero carbon by a far off date. But they also claim to be committed to economic growth by a closer date. In other words, there is a stark choice between saving the planet and saving the economy and on every occasion the political class, in every country, chooses the economy in the here and now, making it less and less likely that they can save the planet later.

The UK’s Green Party’s policy document on the economy states unambiguously, “Continually increasing resource extraction, industrial throughput and waste production is entirely incompatible with ecological sustainability,” then goes on to argue that they “will require large and medium sized companies to carry out an independently audited annual audit of their social and environmental impact.” In other words the Greens, like all the other parties, remain caught in the headlights of the large corporations whose greed and irresponsibility have done so much to get us into this situation. Changing the economy, and saving the planet, cannot be done by merely asking large money-making corporations to create a glossy report. It can only be done by finding an alternative means of sustaining life that does not revolve around large corporations sucking the life out of every country they locate in. It means a socialist economy run for the benefit of all, not the profit of a few.

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