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From: The Socialist issue 881, 2 December 2015: Don't bomb Syria

Search site for keywords: Climate change - Gas - Energy - Oil - Profit - Planning - G20 - Capitalism

Paris climate summit falls short in world's hottest year

2015 will be the hottest year on record, according to US government scientists, beating the previous record holder, 2014. But world leaders at the UN conference on climate change in Paris show no signs of tackling impending catastrophe.

The slowdown in the warming of global surface temperatures, much-touted by climate change sceptics, has ended. Each of the past four years has been hotter than the one before. A strong 'El Niño' - warm ocean current - is still intensifying, contributing to the record rise in surface temperatures.

Extreme

As the frequency of extreme weather events intensifies, severe droughts, floods and storms will cause crop failures and food shortages. Low-lying lands will become uninhabitable. The struggle for diminishing resources could result in civil conflicts and even war.

But the giant energy companies' greed for easy, dirty profits from coal, oil and gas is unquenchable.

In 2009 the 'G20' advanced capitalist countries pledged to phase out subsidies for fossil fuel production. In spite of this, the Tory government earlier this year announced a further £1.7 billion in new tax breaks for North Sea oil and gas production.

At the same time Tory chancellor George Osborne announced axing subsidies for renewable energy programmes. In the Autumn Statement, he also slashed £132 million from energy efficiency schemes - on the very day when "excess winter deaths" reached a record high.

Immediate binding international action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is vital to stabilise the climate. But this is unlikely to happen on a capitalist basis, where the cornerstone of a competitive system of production is profit at any cost.

Only democratic socialist planning of industry, based on publicly owned and democratically run economies, can start to mitigate the environmental damage generated by capitalism. To halt climate change, we need system change.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

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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Article dated 2 December 2015

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