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Climate Change: No to the Copenhagen farce!

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Statement from the League for the Fifth International about the Copenhageen summit. Distributed by League members and supporters on the demonstrations taking place in December

The “climate summit” in Copenhagen is a farce. Hundreds of leaders of the states of the world and the UN, hundreds of experts and NGOs, hundreds of lobbyists from the large multi-nationals will gather for two weeks of negotiations and lobbying. But, even before the end of the meeting, it is already clear that the result will be pathetic, nothing meaningful will come out.And why should anyone be surprised?

Why should anybody wonder, that a meeting of those politicians and heads of state, the “guests” and observers from the very same big business whose system and politics caused and worsened the situation, will not be able to agree on measures which could really cut CO2 omissions substantially in the next period?Even if the summit agrees on a “final declaration”, it will be a political smokescreen; it will even fall short of the feeble pledges of the so-called Kyoto protocol.The only “real” change after Kyoto, and decades after global warming became a recognised threat, is that the governments of all countries, including the US, now accept that global warming as a result of human activity is a reality. What an achievement! What a “commitment”!

Why will the summit be a farce?Of course, it is easy to predict that nothing will emerge that will be adequate to counter climate change. It is even easier to predict that less – if that is possible – will come out to help the people of those countries in Africa or Oceania most affected by the existing results of climate change like the expansion of deserts, the destruction of agricultural land or the devastation of whole islands and coastal areas.However, it is more important to understand why the summits lead to nothing, why they are threatened with “break-down” if any serious demand is raised on the US, the EU or China, for example. Why – apart from a few symbolic breadcrumbs - nothing is done to assist those countries most affected (and least responsible!) for climate change?

The reason is simple and it has a name: it is capitalism. In this system production is geared to produce more and more profit. Over centuries this has resulted in the creation of large, monopolistic multinational companies and huge, imperialist states ruling the world. They rule it to make more profit, to increase their wealth, that is, the obscene riches of a small class of industrialists, commercial companies and financiers.For them, the environment is simply a “cost factor” – as are the workers who are exploited in order to produce the enormous profits that the large corporations earn.Such a system can never be “environmentally friendly” and lasting. Ever sharper competition between the large capitalists leads to ever more rapid cuts in costs, increasing the exploitation, the humiliation and in more and more parts of the world, the immiseration of the workers. And it also leads to a continued destruction of the environment with unforeseeable consequences.

For generations and decades, all the large oil, chemical, steel and car producers and “their” governments blocked any recognition of the problem, let alone measures to combat it. Today, the very same companies present themselves as “environmental champions” or even as sponsors of the summit. They now present themselves as “green”. Again a farce, when companies like BMW or Mercedes use the COP 15 to promote their newest “green” cars! It shows the whole cul-de-sac to which the summit is leading. Instead of a move towards a planned and integrated public transport system to replace the individual transport system, the world is offered a joke, which could never be generalised around the globe, if the environment and our cities and countryside are not to become a daily horror show. Everybody knows that it is completely impossible to ensure mobility and transport with reasonable comfort for the world’s population via individual cars. But it would be, and it is, possible via a massive investment and improvement in public transport. What is needed is not shows by the car companies, but the expropriation of the large car, truck, plane, steel, energy producers and their nationalisation under workers’ control. It would require a plan, controlled by the workers and consumers.It is such measures that are required to re-organise the economies of the world in order to reorganise production and exchange. For such measures, the means of production, the wealth of this planet have to be taken out of the hands of the rich and be controlled by those who work in the companies and on the land.The market system, on the other hand, is incapable of establishing a sustainable system of production that serves human needs and takes measures to ensure a human environment for the next generations.Is any result better than nothing?

Many activists in Copenhagen and throughout the world have seen through this farce. They want to blockade the summit, occupy the city. They want to make clear that the rulers of the world must not get away with another pathetic charade! Indeed, there are a thousand reasons to block the farce in Copenhagen. If those who run the summit, if the multinationals and the imperialist states continue to dominate the world, summits like Copenhagen will not only be a farce but will lead to a tragedy.But there is another wing in the environmental movement that rejects this. The large, business-like NGOs like Greenpeace, Attac, the reformist and established Green parties argue that “any result is better than nothing”, since it would at least be a “start”. A start to what? To a lottery for the lifeboats on the Titanic? A start to another “process” of “non-commitments”? Others, like the deputies of the German Linkspartei, argue that one must not disrupt the summit, since it is held by the UN and is, “therefore” (!) not “just” a meeting dominated by the rich countries of the North, unlike, for example, the WTO. And if Barack Obama now announces that he will participate in Copenhagen, that he “wants something” and that the US might adopt a law to reduce CO2 emissions, they praise this as though it was manna from heaven.

Finally, a number of reformists, Keynesians and even advisors to imperialist governments argue that Copenhagen and the whole climate “challenge” could also be a “chance” to move to a more environmentally friendly, “green” capitalism. This is one of the worst lies, to fool the workers and the poor of this world. The current historic crisis of the capitalist system in which we live can only be solved via destruction of “excess” capital, mass lay offs, increased exploitation and poverty. It can only be solved on the basis of sharpened conflicts between the super-rich themselves, through a redivision of the world between the large companies and powers of the world like the US, the EU, China, Russia etc.The capitalists try to “solve” the crisis of their system by making us, the workers, the youth, the peasants and poor of the global South pay for it. This will lead to more environmental destruction, not less. It will not lead to a capitalism that takes into account “other” imperatives than profit, but one that will be even more ruthless and destructive than today.Working class action needed. The more radical campaign “Climate Justice Action“ (CJA) is right in opposing the Copenhagen farce outright.

It correctly rejects and ridicules the reformist and NGO “hopes“ for the summit. They correctly reject lobbying the climate criminals as a cul-de-sac, which has never led to any improvements and never will. They rightly denounce capitalism as the source of the problem. But they do not have a clear understanding of who can overthrow it and which system to replace it with.As revolutionaries we state clearly: it is the working class of this world who are the only social force capable of stopping the capitalist polluters.

They alone are able to bring the capitalist system to a real halt via internationally co-ordinated action.

They must and can ally with all those classes, social forces like hundreds of millions of peasants who are also hit by the environmental and economic crisis of the system.Such a force can and will fight to take the land, industry and banks under its control. It has to overthrow the power of the ruling classes, establish the rule of the working class and replace the bureaucratic state apparatus and repressive machine by councils of the workers and peasants. Only on such a basis can the system be reorganised as a whole. Only on such a basis can a plan to reorganise the economy and social life be established democratically to meet the needs of humanity, not the greed of the rich.Capitalism cannot be reformed or made “green”. It needs to be overthrown – via a global socialist revolution!

Our demands

• Impose a global target of a maximum 1 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures

* We need the rapid end to the production of internal combustion engine road vehicles a massive expansion of an integrated public transport system

• We need a planned phasing out of all energy production based on the burning of fossil fuels and a massive investment in alternative sources of power generation such as wind wave and solar power. No new coal fired power stations

• Stop the introduction of a new generation of nuclear power stations in private hands, the uncompensated nationalisation of the entire industry. Workers inspection of plants and immediate closure all found to be unsafe.

• Heavily fine the corporate polluters, jailing their owners, CEOs etc. Protect and reward whistleblowers

• End the Carbon trading rip-off where rich polluting countries bribe poor ones to hold back their development

• No to regressive “green” taxation- all such taxes must be steeply progressive making the rich and the corporate polluters pay

• Expropriate the “clean tech entrepreneurs and venture funds - planning to make billions out of climate change

• We need a huge global programme of reforestation, restoration of areas degraded by the effects of climate change, the protection of biodiversity

• Redeployment of all workers in polluting industries on equal pay and conditions into work which allows them to use their skills and experience to saving the planet and developing a decent life for all its inhabitants

• Trade Unions in the polluting industries, break with your bosses, stop defending their harmful processes and fight to impose either far reaching clean up measures or if not possible, closure and or the redeployment of the workforce

• For campaigns by Trade Unions and peasant rights organisations against polluting practices. Workers to have more rights in the workplace, more health and safety protection and for it to be enforced by Trade Union representation

• No to the patenting of genetic material: for independent workers and scientists control and testing before any genetically modified crops are released. Nationalisation of the entire biotechnology industry

• A massive programme of protective measures for all those regions and countries already suffering the effects of climate change paid for by the big polluters both states and corporations

• A democratic plan of environmentally sustainable production to develop the world so that all of its people can enjoy a decent living standard. Cancel the entire third world debt.

Whilst we can and must start the fight for each and every one of these demands now; in order to decisively save the planet we need the political power to impose then directly. NGO lobbying received its final discrediting in Copenhagen. Only by breaking the hold of on state power of the corporate polluters will give us the power to make the changes we need in time to prevent catastrophe.

The working class, allied to the urban and rural poor, alone have the strength to do this. Only socialism - where production is planned for to achieve equality, to overcome the separation between town and countryside, and meet essential needs for the whole of humanity - can restore a dynamic equilibrium between our species and its natural environment.

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