Durban Climate Talks – No Reason to Celebrate! What We Need is a System Change to Stop Climate Change!

Despite the UN and most of the countries present hailing the deal as a breakthrough, and the spin attached by certain sections of the media in support of that view, there is nothing at all, which those who are concerned with opposing the growing threat of irreversible climate change, might celebrate about the Durban Climate Talks which ended on Sunday.

What has been agreed is basically worthless. It has about the same value as Neville Chamberlain’s famous piece of paper signed by Adolf Hitler pledging “peace in our time”, and the old promise of “Jam tomorrow”. It is at best a deal to agree a legally enforceable deal by 2020 – a deal which not one of the Government’s represented at the Durban Conference is likely be around to see through, implement or enforce even were it ever actually see the light of day.

Additionally, even if such a deal was agreed and was legally enforceable in eight year’s time (by whom exactly is hard to say) then who’s to say it won’t, as most of us might suspect, fall considerably short in terms of what actually needs doing in relation to the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, and other measures which might be implemented, to adequately address the severity of the problem in 2020?

Indeed, not only is there nothing to celebrate, but what has been agreed is in reality something of a set back, and especially for those who may have pinned their hopes on the Durban Talks achieving more immediate and tangible progress.

It is difficult in some respects to grasp why anyone might have thought it was going to be otherwise. The only rationale I suspect, is a belief by a great many environmental campaigners in the idea that all the existing, almost universally pro-Banker, pro-rich minority Governments who are collectively representative of the very global Capitalist system which objectively, as a result of its inherent need for economic expansion and ‘growth’ is ultimately at the root of the problem, are actually capable, given all their various national, and competing bloc rivalries, of reforming that system, as well as themselves in the process.

Indeed, perhaps also, that not a few of these same people believe that some of the World’s politicians and potential future Government parties, are even serious about wanting to address the impending environmental and climate catastrophe, which more and more Scientists are alerting us to the likelihood of, which the World we all live on, is increasingly as a result now faced with. This, when it patently clear to most others, that many, particularly in the Republican Party in the US, still dispute the entire science and are effectively ‘climate change deniers’.

The ability of Capitalist politicians and Governments to reform both the system and themselves is something which those of us in the Wigan Borough Green Socialists firmly believe they either don’t want to, or are incapable of doing, in the same way as a Leopard can’t change its spots.

As a consequence we believe all those who are conscious of the environmental threat we a facing would do better to join with us and others of a similar mind, in becoming part of a pro-majority of the people, anti-Capitalist alliance, coalition or united front, call it what you will, across the planet, who are wanting to not only take decisive action on climate and the environment on a local, national, and international level sooner rather than later, but who recognise the need to link this with a unified fight on all fronts against all the attacks ordinary people are facing in almost every country across the globe.

These latter attacks, which are the result of the 2008 Banking crisis and the state bail-out and debt repayment fuelled worsening international economic, social and political crisis, as well environmental situation, have ultimately one and the same origins – the continued existence of the Capitalist system on a global level.

Similarly, the key divide in every country is increasingly one and the same: who will pay for the crisis and who will pay off the debt? Who will pay for all the environmental destruction and the threat of climate change caused by Capitalism’s insatiable lust for growth and profits? The Bankers and richest 10% who currently most benefit from that system, or the rest of us? In the case of climate change, the Bankers and the richest 10% or generally the World’s poorest people?

In Britain the Tory/Lib-Dem Coalition like its counterparts elsewhere want to make us ordinary folk foot the bill through cuts in our slice of the national pie, whether that be via cuts in wages, holiday and pension entitlements, union facility time, the privatisation of, and cuts in our NHS, cuts in housing and other benefit entitlements, tax credits or via Library or Sure Start Centre closures. They consider this infinitely preferable to clamping down on the tax avoiders, evaders and non-payers who most likely vote for and support them. They consider this infinitely preferable to introducing a system of progressive taxation which might not only see most people pay less tax than they do now, and only large businesses and the most well off pay more, but which would plug the Government’s current budget deficit overnight and create sufficient funds at the same time for the State to immediately invest in the beginnings of a self-financing environmentally, as well as economically sustainable, and more egalitarian future for us all.

In WWII when it might be argued more realistically by some, that all of us in Britain were actually all in it together, the top tax rate for high earners was 98%. If that’s the case now as Cameron & Clegg maintain, then how comes they aren’t paying a similar rate of tax now? Indeed, even during the Thatcher era, when we faced a similar Capitalist ‘recession’ both companies and high earners paid more in tax to the Exchequer than they do now!

This banner says it all "System Change Not Climate Change" that's what we need to put the brake on the Capitalist economic system's accelerating slide in the direction of a global environmental and climate catastrophe.

WE NEED A SYSTEM CHANGE TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE & THE CUTS – Towards a Green Socialist Future!

In our view the fight against Climate Change and environmental degradation and destruction is not only not counterposed to the economic and social policies we need to provide a decent job, living standards, housing, education, healthcare and retirement for everyone BUT IS VERY MUCH CENTRAL TO IT!

Not only that, the very things we need to do reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, will also allow us to become more self-reliant as communities, towns, cities, regions and countries, encourage greater community spirit, ingenuity and invention, and promote a better quality of life for everyone all round.

Some practical policies we support in this direction in our own area which make this point include:

* Immediately, helping to promote the setting up of community based renewable energy generation co-operatives across the Wigan area. Though the feed in tariff has been reduced only this week, larger community co-operatives schemes are still viable and the idea behind them one of basic immediate self-help of a green nature with potential financial benefits to those involved, as well and element of job creation and better community cohesion thrown into the equation.

* Additionally, immediately helping to promote community ‘Land share’ co-operatives, where existing landowners with land available, including Wigan Council, are encouraged to allow local people to collectively cultivate that land and share in the common produce. Additionally by incorporating Todmorden’s ‘Incredible Edible’ project’s ethos, bringing local producers and sellers into contact with each other, as well as numerous other linked proposals.

More generally speaking however, here are some of things we are proposing be adopted locally and nationally and which form part of our proposed Wigan Borough People’s Charter (see: http://wp.me/p1Uws6-k) which we are suggesting as the basis for a common electoral platform for all those to the political Left of Labour, wanting to stand in the May 2012 elections in the Wigan area.

* For a major increase in state & municipal investment in the Wigan area to help defend existing jobs & to create new ones. (In connection with public transport) Rather than a guided busway few want, we support the call for a new heavy rail link for Leigh, Tyldesley and Mosley Common to Manchester and Liverpool, as well as for a new rail station in Golborne. (This would help create thousands of new jobs locally and to immediately help regenerate the entire area.)

* Stop the asset-stripping/selling-off of Council owned land and property to the private sector. Build 15,000 new ‘affordable’, ‘carbon neutral’ Council-owned homes across the Borough to help tackle the growing problem of homelessness on the one hand, and to help get local construction workers back in to work on the other. Also to help reduce domestic CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and to fight the growing threat of climate change which threatens us all.

* Additionally, to help tackle the threat of climate change, increasing traffic congestion, and to create jobs and put money back into ordinary people’s pockets, we call for an improved and expanded public transport system that is fully integrated, publicly owned and free at the point of use. All these things to be paid for out of system of progressive taxation which sees the banks, big corporations and the rich generally pay the most and the poorest pay nothing.

Perhaps in view of recent developments an additional paragraph to this might also say:

* Total opposition to Nuclear energy in addition to shale-gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing, in favour of a massive state programme of investment in the development of renewable energy production – focusing especially on marine, off shore wind, ground source and hydro generation and not simply as currently, predominantly on solar and wind generation. Also, greater state investment in energy efficiency and conservation, home and workplace insulation, all of which significant investment in right now, would create considerably more jobs per £ spent by the Government than their currently favoured nuclear and shale-gas alternative, and which also would save us £billions in benefit payments at the same time as increasing the state’s tax take.

These types of practical policies should unite all Greens, Socialists and anti-Capitalists not only in our area, but wider afield. They are policies, which if they were applied locally, nationally and globally, along with others in the same spirit, such as the Million Green Jobs campaign calls for, would already be positively addressing the issues of both the worsening economic and environmental crises.

Additionally, if the Stern Report is anything to go by, will cost us twenty times more in 2020, if we fail to address the issue now or in the meantime, to have the same effect on climate change as they would now. Simply on those grounds, let alone the possibility of the collapse of human civilisation into a High Tech Mad Max/Waterworld/1984 style Barbarism, any alleged financially prudent Government should be putting these measures into effect immediately!

The problem of course is that no pro-Capitalist, pro-existing set-up Government, is going to implement even 5% at best, of any of these proposals because that would fundamentally contradict the current ‘Neo-Liberal’ economic consensus across all the major parties throughout the EU and World Trade Organisation (WTO) countries, which sees the free market as King, which seeks to privatise as far as possible all the existing public sectors in their respective countries, and which sees not only progressive taxation, but state intervention into the economy (unless it is to bail-out those deemed ‘too big to fail’ like RBS, HBOS, Northern Rock, or alternatively to invade another country and intervene into its economy in order to loot it, like in Iraq and Libya!) as an anathema to be avoided like the plague.

The same would go for a Labour Government in this country too, were we to see Labour’s return to power in 2015, something which currently is by no means a certainty. Were it to introduce a progressive taxation system and intervene into the economy along the lines we are proposing, something which would also hardly seem likely right now, then the International Money Markets who will then be owed in region of £1.5 trillion will ask them the very same question: who is going to pay for it? This since they certainly will have no intention of doing so themselves. They will also point to the illegality of Britain doing such without leaving the EU (and likely the WTO as well) and repudiating many international Treaties Britain is currently signed up to, to the huge potential economic impact of that, as well as to the many self-evidently not so patriotic rich people and companies who would flee the country also as result of the implementation of such measures, in order to avoid themselves footing the bill.

If past experience of Labour’s support for the interests of global Capitalism and and their own narrow short term self-interest, was not sufficient reason to think they won’t don’t as we are proposing, then the thought of EU withdrawal, potential international isolation, the possibility of new trade barriers and/or the pressure from global financial institutions, as well as various high profile celebrities and high earners fleeing abroad, will undoubtedly see Labour’s front bench, and the TU bureaucracy supportive of them, distance themselves from any such state interventionist notion, and to instead reconcile themselves with basically carrying on where the current Coalition Government leaves off. i.e. a continued policy of making the mass of folk pay for the continuing economic crisis, perhaps slightly less harshly than the Tories and Lib-Dems might do in the short term, but which failing decisive action against the power of Capital, will inevitably do nothing other than help lead us from one economic crisis and Government to another, and the potential of decades of austerity in order to repay the ‘Sovereign Debt’ Britain owes to the World’s financial institutions, if not to a global climate and environmental catastrophe in the meantime.

To get a Government here in Britain, and elsewhere, prepared to grasp the nettle, a Government which would do what is required in the interests of the vast majority in relation to the economy, on climate change, on whatever other issue, requires the vast majority of the people themselves acting to bring such a Government about. Their current comparative acquiescence, and in some cases support for cuts, privatisation and austerity, is perhaps the single biggest problem we are currently faced with in moving in the direction of creating such a Government, here and elsewhere.

To begin to move towards such a Government and overcome the latter, one of the most important things which we believe is needed, is for all those currently wanting to fightback to better organise themselves at all levels, starting in their workplaces, union branches, and in their neighbourhoods and communities, and to promote the idea of fighting on the most unified basis as possible.

Within this framework we should look at the various strikes, protests, campaigns, days of actions, occupations, etc, which are being planned and which maybe planned and organised in the coming period, as indicators of how the movement is growing, rather than as ends in themselves; as steps in a ongoing campaign aimed at the mobilisation of the entire mass of the population against the Governments’ and bosses’ policy of making ordinary people pay for the economic and environmental mess we’re in as a country and which has nothing to do with us; a mess which has been precipitated and continues to be caused, by the greedy and reckless Bankers, financial speculators, and the ultra-rich in general who most benefit from the existing economic set up, along with their crony political representatives in all the main parties, and who if there is such a thing as justice, should surely be the ones who are made to foot the bill for it, rather than us ordinary folk.

As the movement grows, the possibility of our beating back the attacks we’re all facing will also increase and with it the possibility of a defeat of the Government. But this is not going to happen overnight, and nor is it going to happen as a result of our making premature calls for an immediate all-out General Strike, unaccompanied by the necessary groundswell of support for such an idea, or more importantly any serious preparation for such beforehand (something which many of those currently raising the demand have thought to even consider let alone take any practical steps to prepare for), and all the less so, the more those on the anti-Capitalist, Green & Socialist Left remain divided, and a great many of them continue to operate in a wholly sectarian manner.

All the less so also, the growth of the entire movement is thwarted by the dead hand of the Trades Union bureaucracy in most unions, as there have been numerous examples of in Wigan only recently, let alone historically on a national and international level, and which in Wigan, as well as elsewhere may have been averted had there been greater co-operation and unity in action on the part of those claiming to be of the anti-Capitalist, Green and Socialist Left.

WE NEED A NEW PARTY OF, FOR AND BY THE MASS OF THE PEOPLE

In the next period in addition to better organising ourselves at all levels, and seeking to promote the idea of a broad anti-Capitalist people’s coalition, alliance or united front to beat back the attacks we are all facing, the Wigan Borough Green Socialists think it is also important to discuss the issue of political representation at elections and of taking the fight for the type of future we need and want, into traditional political arena as well as via all the various campaigns, protest actions, strikes, occupations, etc, we are already involved or wanting to be involved in.

As a group we ourselves don’t claim to have all the answers, nor unlike some do we claim to be a finished political party which only needs to grow numerically in size and all our problems would be solved, but rather, simply a group of people who support the idea that in the course of our future more unified and combined struggles against the Coalition Governments’ and bosses’ attacks, those who are serious on the Left, as well as across the wider movement, those who want to affect the possibly of a real change in society to the benefit of the vast majority, might consider it worthwhile to not only work together in a more co-operative and comradely manner than they do currently, but to be also working together towards the possibility of a new, broad, grassroots driven, progressive, democratic, pluralistic, egalitarian, anti-Capitalist green, socialist alternative Party to Labour at every level, including at the ballot box. Towards a party which is of, for and by the mass of ordinary people, and which might embrace all those currently standing to the political Left of Labour as well as broader forces.

For those who may be interested in the Wigan area, we are proposing support for the People’s Charter nationally, as well as mentioned earlier, a local Wigan Borough People’s Charter dealing with issues in our area, as the basis of a common anti-Capitalist Left of Labour ‘People’s Alternative’ in the May 2012 local elections. As we are affiliated to the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition nationally, we would see our own efforts as part of its broader national electoral challenge, and would like to think that anyone wanting to stand on a local united anti-Capitalist, pro-majority of the people platform in opposition to Labour and the traditional Capitalist parties in the Wigan area, such as we are proposing, and who shares similar views to ourselves, might do so too.

If you’d like to stand in the local elections on the above basis, in your own Ward area, under an appropriate electoral name/description (rather than as an Independent, which in the Wigan area means predominantly a bunch if right-wing populist opportunists) and in keeping with what we are proposing, then please get in touch with us a.s.a.p. (E-mail: stevechik@talktalk.net)

A formal letter to the Wigan SWP Branch, South Lancs Socialist Party Branch and Wigan & Leigh Greens inviting to them to become part of such a united electoral alternative across the Wigan Borough area will be being sent to them soon, along with the issuing of an appeal to the broader movement along the same lines.

Only by working together with other anti-Capitalists who share similar views in the first instance, whatever differences we may have with them on ‘secondary’ issues, do we think we have a chance of making any progress on any level, including in relation to environmental degradation and the threat of irreversible catastrophic climate change. Unfortunately, whilst we can and do energetically promote that idea, and and have sought to “lead the horse to water” as the old saying goes, over the last 18 months and more, sadly we have as yet been unsuccessful in getting the horse to drink, certainly in the Wigan area.

Perseverance and good practice on our part will surely pay off in the long run, and what we’re proposing, more chance of succeeding, than the currently prevailing Life of Brian style sect building, rivalry and competition on the part of the Left which is by no means unique to Wigan, nor indeed Britain either.

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