by Róisín McLaren, SSP national co-spokesperson
· The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) sent our support to the school strikers taking part in the Friday 20th Strike for Climate and subsequent actions.
It’s a very welcome step that the organisers of Strike for Climate are reaching out to workers to join the action.
Without workers joining the school strikers, the movement will not be powerful enough to take on those with substantial vested interests in maintaining the status quo.
There are those that would keep us hurtling along the current path towards climate disaster. The petrochemical industry has known that their business is causing global climate change since the late 1960s.
Lies and lobbies
Just like the cigarette manufacturers who knew that their products gave us cancer, they have lied, lobbied and dodged their way out of preventing this disaster.
Humanity hasn’t caused climate change, a corporate elite have. We are not all equally responsible. The largest 100 companies account for 71 per cent of all carbon emissions. Just one oil company, ExxonMobil Corp, produces 2 per cent of the world’s emissions, that’s the same percentage as the whole of Germany.
A quick glance at the Forbes top 50 is like reading a ‘Who’s-Who’ of the world oil and gas industry: Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Petro China, BP. It’s no coincidence that the list is also littered with car companies, agricultural and construction firms all of whom profit from products reliant on the petrochemicals industry.
Each of these corporations is larger and more powerful than most nation states.
Combined the collective weight of vested interest in ‘keeping the oil pumping’ is vast. This weight is why, despite goodwill and promises to the contrary, greenhouse gas emissions increase every year.
Climate disaster can be prevented, solutions exist. What prevents their implementation is the vested interests of capital in continuing an economic system based on profits, this system is called capitalism.
Because climate change is the result of capitalism any attempt to halt climate change will have to take on capitalism. You can’t have a non-political environmental movement.
Demanding to stop climate change is demanding to cut profits. It’s demanding that all of us have a say in the future of humanity, not just a powerful elite who own companies. That’s demanding a very different type of society.
A society where democracy is extended into all aspects of life, into the workplace not just the ballot box. A society where production is done in line with what we need, not just what is profitable. A society where we invest in collective solutions that give people a green alternative to unsustainable behaviours.
To halt climate change we need a socialist society. But we can only get there if we build a mass movement powerful enough to take on capitalism. The Strike for Climate is a great event, which the SSP is proud to be part of, but it’s not going to be enough to make the change we need to prevent extinction.
We need to build the movement and the best way to do this by linking the environmental and working class movements together.
The key thing that truly threatens capitalism is not having the labour-power it requires to function.
That alone is the killer blow. Only the working class has the collective force powerful enough to achieve the environmental movement’s aims.
Therefore, we need an environmental movement which marries socialist and environmental demands. That presents solutions to climate change which improve working people’s lives.
This is a point not just of ideology, but of practicality. The global working-class in our sheer scale and in our essential part in the economy holds a power even greater than that of capital.
To achieve our aims, the environmental movement will have to wield that collective power: strikes, occupations, civil disobedience and even open revolt may be needed.
These actions are not possible, however, without the public on-board. The environmental movement cannot be a small group of dedicated activists’ verses capitalism. It must be the majority of humanity verses the small elite.
It is essential that our solutions to climate change improve working people’s lives. Solutions to climate change that mean austerity, unemployment and further marginalisation of the working-class majority will not win the mass support needed for their implementation.
If we link the struggle against climate change with creating a planned democratic economy and a radical redistribution of wealth, we can offer a vision of a future which does not merely prevent climate disaster but creates a better, fairer society.
Free public transport
The Scottish Socialist Party’s approach to climate change has been to pioneer policies that do just that: reduce emissions while improving working people’s lives.
Since our foundation, the SSP has advocated for universal Free Public Transport, to give people a better alternative than using their cars. Transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland and car use is the largest source of transport emissions.
Only a public transport system on the scale of the National Health Service will be a genuinely tempting alternative for people rather than the car.
The most important demand of the environmental movement is that of democratic control. We need to have a say over how industry is run, and you cannot do so if ownership of industry lies in the hands of private individuals.
The shareholders of private companies have a legal duty to provide a continuous growth of profits. Even the most liberal-minded of CEOs cannot choose to close an unsustainable business.
This is why public ownership of industry is a key solution to climate change. Having democratic control over industry will allow us to wind down the oil and gas industry while using its resources to fund a renewables revolution.
We need a publicly owned construction industry which can build environmentally sustainable homes to lift workers out of fuel poverty and into efficient modern housing.
The Scottish Socialist Party calls for 100,000 publicly owned houses to be built to improve the sustainability of housing stock in Scotland; to tackle the homeless crisis and to create thousands of well-paid, skilled and unionised jobs.
Environmental activists taking part in the Strike for Climate, help us join together environmental and socialist demands, help use unite the environmental and workers movements.
Let’s move beyond slogans such as: “System Change Not Climate Change” and merely being “anti-capitalist” and help us create a set of concrete demands which can gain mass support in the struggle for a socialist world.
What Can You Do?
· Raise socialist demands in environmental meetings
· Talk about the struggle against climate change as part of the class struggle
· Keep climate change a class issue not an intergenerational issue
· Join your trade union and raise environmental issues within the union
· Invite SSP activists to your meetings
· Subscribe to the Voice
Or simply consider joining the Scottish Socialist Party. Capitalism cannot halt climate disaster. Without a revolutionary change in how the economy and society is structured we will suffer an environmental breakdown.
There are many organisations that will help push towards that change: trade unions, activists groups and individual are all are essential to the struggle.
Unite and fight
However, a vital component is a strong working class socialist party. To create that change we need a party which can raise our demands on the streets, in the workplace and in parliament.
Having a party provides activists which a network to link our activism together, to learn from one-another and to educate ourselves in the history of socialist politics.
Our climate is hurtling towards to irreversible climate change. We must unite and fight this threat while we still can. Our demand is simple: ‘We only want an Earth.’