Profits the barrier to climate action

In the past year the climate crisis has moved to the forefront of people’s minds. Young people in particular have taken to the streets with enormous climate strikes being organised around the world.

The bushfires in Australia have pushed a new sense of urgency into the situation. This comes as scientists tell us we have as little as 10 years to stall the effects of climate change.

Results from the ABC’s Australia Talks survey confirmed that climate issues are a major concern.

From the 54,000 people surveyed, 60% said that they considered climate change to be a serious problem, and that action was needed now. 72% acknowledged that climate change was affecting them, and that it was their number one concern.

Why then is nothing substantial being done by governments to reduce emissions, or to mitigate the impacts of devasting fires?

The main reason is that both the major parties see themselves as defenders of the big coal and mining bosses, and for them reducing emissions means reducing profits. Both the major parties receive extraordinary donations from these corporations in exchange for acting as their political representatives.

But while the Liberals and Labor are beholden to the big polluters, they are also under pressure from voters who want action on climate change.

While a few politicians are still clinging to climate change denial, most of them prefer to try and look like they’re doing something. They tell us that they are meeting their targets and that this is enough.

The bushfires however show that nowhere near enough is being done. The emissions reduction targets they have are completely inadequate and the transition to renewable energy is happening at a snail’s pace.

Of the half measures they have taken they make sure that the costs are shifted onto working class people rather than the big companies that are actually responsible for the vast bulk of the polluting.

Asking big companies, which are set up to make profits, to drastically reduce emissions is not going to work. Similarly, asking the parties that are set up to defend the polluters to go against their masters is futile. A completely different approach is needed if we are to carry through the climate action we need.

The free market and the profit motive are barriers, they need to be removed. This can be done by bringing the big polluters into public hands and running the major sectors of the economy in a planned and sustainable way.

Rather than letting profits rule, we could instead make decisions based on the needs of people and the environment. A planned transition to renewables could take place quickly while protecting jobs and communities that are dependent on carbon intensive industries.

We could massively expand the public transport network so that we are not reliant on cars, and we could ensure that our built environment is sustainable. Billions of dollars could be freed up for things like hazard reduction and bushfire mitigation.

An economy that is publicly owned, planned and democratically controlled is the only way to do this, but because this would mean an end to the profit-first system big business and the major parties will oppose it.

They’d rather have us all burn than run society in a planned and logical way.

We can’t rely on them, it’s up to the working class to take the lead on these matters. After all its workers and the poor who are the most impacted by climate change, but we also have the most to gain from a new system that shares out society’s wealth.

To win a new system capable of solving the climate crisis we will need a new social movement and a new political vehicle that is designed to represent working people. Big business has two parties to choose from, we need a party of our own!

Socialist Action stands for:

  • A swift and just transition to renewable energy based on a democratic plan that protects both jobs and local communities.
  • Bring the big mining and energy companies into public hands, remove the profit motive, and run the economy based on the needs of people and the environment.
  • Build the climate movement. For students and workers to strike together to oppose the big polluters and the parties that represent them. Create a new party for working people and climate action.

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