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21 April 2021

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Climate change - Johnson spouts 'greenwash 2.0'

London climate strike 20 September 2019, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

London climate strike 20 September 2019, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Sam Morden and Dave Carr

Boris Johnson grabbed the headlines with his announcement of a legally binding commitment to a 78% reduction in carbon dioxide gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2035 - some 15 years earlier than previously planned.

However, Johnson's 'green' rhetoric largely consists of recycled headlines. He is trying to pose as a world trendsetter on averting damaging climate change ahead of the delayed COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year.

Indeed, Johnson sidesteps where the necessary investment to achieve this significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions is going to come from.

According to the government's own Climate Change Committee, 50 billion extra investment per year is needed over the next 35 years to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 - a sizeable sum. But the cost of not doing so will be even greater to the economy. Moreover, it is roughly equivalent to the 900 billion in quantitative easing that UK governments have shelled out over the last decade to keep the capitalist economy afloat.

But the amount the government has pledged is paltry - maybe 3 billion extra in terms of new money. At the same time, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has committed to spend an extra 27 billion on expanding the road network, ie more vehicles pumping out more CO2 and toxic pollutants into the air.

Johnson is largely relying on the private sector to invest in green energy and technology. But it is precisely the capitalist system that puts profit ahead of the environment which has brought us to a 'climate emergency'. Tory governments' track record is one of underinvesting in green energy production while giving tax breaks and other subsidies to fossil fuel corporations.

Meanwhile, Britain's oil and gas rigs burn off enough unwanted gas to heat a million homes a year. The resulting huge CO2 emissions from this 'flaring' are equivalent to the annual output from a coal-fired power station.

A recent report by the Cambridge Sustainability Commission shows that it's the world's richest who have the largest carbon footprint - not the world's poor.

Johnson's 'building back greener' post-pandemic hype was immediately overshadowed by news from the International Energy Agency that carbon dioxide emissions - the main driver of global heating in the atmosphere - are expected to rocket upwards this year by the second biggest annual rise in history.

This surge in emissions is the result of capitalist governments pouring investment into polluting fossil fuel energy production - mainly coal-fired power stations - in order to stimulate the global economy as it emerges from its Covid-induced recession.

Sustainable production of goods and services for all can only be achieved through democratically planned socialist economies which would eliminate the corrosive profit motive of capitalism.

The Socialist Party is standing candidates in the 6 May local elections as part of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC - see back page). Chris Baugh, the former assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants' union, who held responsibility for developing the union's policies for combating climate change, has written a briefing paper for TUSC on what councils can do with their existing powers to implement a green agenda. See tusc.org.uk

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 21 April 2021:


What we think

Build a Socialist alternative

Capitalism discriminates against us - Disabled people fighting for our rights


Football

Football: no trust in billionaire owners - kick them out and reclaim the game


International

Left candidate, Pedro Castillo - surprise of Peruvian elections

USA: cop killings and the anti-racist movement

Superpowers' tensions continue to ratchet up


Elections

Don't trust the Labour right's empty promises

Fight to stop cuts

Keep Liverpool council's One Stop Shops open

Liverpool hustings - only TUSC has a strategy to take on the Tories

Essex: Why I'm standing for TUSC

Carlisle campaign day success

Socialist Party northern region meeting

With public campaigning back in full swing - now is the time to raise fighting fund


Workplace

Socialist Party members - part of a left challenge for Unison's leadership

Fight back against British Gas bosses' 'fire and rehire' offensive

Retail workers desperately need a fighting and democratic union

CWU BT ballot - time for action now!

Thurrock bin workers solid in strike against pay cuts

Bus workers protest Go-Ahead's 'fire and rehire'

Ballots to defend reps on Woolwich Ferry

PCS leadership ballot underway


News

Long Covid: Fight for jobs, benefits and services

Climate change - Johnson spouts 'greenwash 2.0'

Covid and precarious workers - union organisation vital

News in brief


Campaigns

Housing activists storm rental firm's offices

Protests continue against proposed anti-protest laws


 

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Related links:

Climate change:

triangleCumbria mine: How can we fight for jobs and stop climate change?

triangleBig Energy piles on the misery

triangle'Building back greener' - yet more Tory greenwash

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Climate change - Only a socialist solution?

Green:

triangleWhat councils can do to protect the environment

triangleGeneration eviction

triangleCan green technology and AI save capitalism?

triangleLuxury for some, poverty for the rest of us

Gas:

triangleFight back against British Gas bosses' 'fire and rehire' offensive

triangleNew British Gas deadline and strike dates

triangleBritish Gas workers strike ahead of 'fire and rehire' deadline

Energy:

triangle10 years ago - the Fukushima nuclear disaster: "We came close to losing northern Japan"

triangleScunthorpe steelworks scaffolders: Fifth week of action

Carbon:

triangleCryptocurrency bubble: Insanity of capitalism

Chris Baugh:

triangleSocialism 2019 rally: "Socialist change needed to end climate change"

Article dated 21 April 2021

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