Global action is needed to solve a global problem, but capitalist governments are impotent. Some world leaders have declared a ‘climate emergency’. But this is an empty phrase when uttered from the lips of these big business politicians. After all, under capitalism, it is not they that really decide. Instead, the future of humanity and our planet is left to the caprices of the so-called ‘invisible hand’ of the market.
Greta Thunberg has pointed out that scientists are being ignored, and asks for governments to listen to the scientific evidence and advice. Similarly, activists from the Extinction Rebellion movement have tried to ‘raise awareness’ and convince politicians through a strategy of highly visible direct actions.
But the capitalists and their politicians will not be persuaded by moral arguments, nor by facts and figures. At the end of the day, we cannot expect this out-of-touch elite to do anything to protect the earth, as their only criterion is maximising profit at the expense of the rest of us.
Corporations will cut corners and ride roughshod through regulations wherever necessary in order to reduce costs, outcompete their rivals, capture new markets, and maximise their profits.
Capitalist politicians have nothing to offer in response to this destruction. All they can suggest is that we must club together and make individual choices to reduce our environmental footprint.
But the ‘solutions’ that flow from this are entirely reactionary. In essence they are just a ‘greenwashing’ of austerity – telling workers and the poor that they must tighten their belts to solve a problem created by the capitalists and their rotten system.
Most importantly, this liberal, individualistic mantra flies in the face of the facts. One recent study, for example, showed that 100 big companies (mainly big fossil fuel producers) are responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This highlights where the real blame for climate change lies.
In response to this fact, some left-wing politicians – such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the USA – have raised the demand for a ‘Green New Deal’, calling for governments to curb carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy supplies and creating green jobs.
These vague proposals generally amount to a Keynesian strategy of attempting to regulate and manage the capitalist system. But capitalism cannot be managed. It cannot be tamed and made ‘green’. As long as the economy is based on production for profit, it will be big business that dictates to governments, not the other way round.