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Global South

Green jobs at the carbon border?

By Nicholas Beuret - The Ecologist, August 11, 2021

A future of carbon neutral border industries criminalising climate migrants is already happening.

The number of people crossing the English Channel seeking refuge has risen in recent weeks.

This has been accompanied by the predictable right-wing decrying of the ‘invasion’, and populist politicians and commentators calling for the criminalisation of search and rescue services.

The context is a surging right-wing political activism. This is being led by the ruling Tory party, which is seeking to use its strong government majority to criminalise a range of dissenting, rebellious - or just-not-Tory - behaviours while they have the chance.

Biden’s Climate Pledge Is a Promise He Cannot Keep

By Howie Hawkins - Solidarity, May 4, 2021

IWW EUC web editor's disclaimer: the IWW does not advoate electralism or endorse political parties, including the Green Party. This article is included to provide a critique of the reformism of the Democratic Party (a similar critique could be offered about the Greens and all other parties).

The climate emergency demands a radical and rapid decarbonization of the U.S. economy with numerical goals and timetables to transform all productive sectors, not only power production (27% of carbon emissions), but also transportation (28%), manufacturing (22%), buildings (12%), and agriculture (10%). It also requires that the U.S. pay its “climate debt” as the world’s largest historical carbon emitter and destroyer of carbon-storing forests, wetlands, and soils. Paying that climate debt would not only be reparations to the Global South for deforestation and fossil fuel emissions by the rich capitalist countries, but also an investment in the habitability of the planet for everyone. This emergency transformation can only be met by an ecosocialist approach emphasizing democratic public enterprise and planning.

Instead, Biden’s plan features corporate welfare: subsidies and tax incentives for clean energy that will take uncertain effect at a leisurely pace in the markets. It does nothing to stop more oil and gas fracking and pipelines for more gas-fired power plants, or to shut down coal-fired power plants. Without out directly saying so, it is a plan to burn fossil fuels for decades to come.

The scale of spending falls pathetically short of what is needed to decarbonize the economy. An effective plan would not only reach zero emissions on a fast timeline. It would also move quickly toward negative emissions. We have to draw carbon out of the atmosphere because we are already well past carbon levels that are triggering dangerous climate change.

Biden’s stated goal of a 50% cut in emissions does not actually cut current emissions in half. His proposed 50% cut is from a baseline of 2005 when emissions were at their peak, not what they are today. Emissions were 6 GtC (gigatons of carbon dioxide) in 2005. Due to a leveling of electric power demand, a trend away from coal to wind, solar, and gas for electric power, and more energy-efficient vehicles, U.S. emissions were down 13% from 2005 by 2019 to 5.1 GtC and, due to the covid contraction, down 21% in 2020 to 4.6 GtC, although emissions are now soaring back up as the economy re-opens. Biden’s goal of 50% below 2005 is 3 GtC per year in emissions instead of 2.5 GtC if 2019 were the baseline, or 2.3 GtC if 2020 were the baseline.

Biden provided no explanation for how the U.S. will get to the precisely stated range of “50% to 52%.” 52% seems to be an arbitrary number pulled out of the air so he can say he is aiming for more than 50%. Greta Thunberg’s video prebuttal to the targets that were to be announced by Biden and the other 40 world leaders at his Earth Day Climate Summit saw right through the staged spectacle. “We can keep cheating in order to pretend that these targets are in line with what is needed, but while we can fool others, and even ourselves, we cannot fool nature and physics… Let’s call out their bullshit.”

Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin: Green New Deal Is Essential for Human Survival

By C.J. Polychroniou - Truthout, April 22, 2021

Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970, an era which marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement, with concerns built primarily around air and water pollution. Of course, the state of the environment has shifted dramatically since then, and while environmental policy has changed a lot in the United States over the past 50 years, biodiversity is in great danger and the climate crisis threatens to make the planet uninhabitable.

On the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, world-renowned scholar and public intellectual Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, laureate professor of linguistics and also the Agnese Nelms Haury chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona; and leading progressive economist Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, share their thoughts on the state of planet Earth in this exclusive interview for Truthout.

C.J. Polychroniou: The theme of Earth Day 2021, which first took place in 1970 with the emergence of environmental consciousness in the U.S. during the late 1960s, is “Restore Our Earth.” Noam, how would you assess the rate of progress to save the environment since the first Earth Day?

Noam Chomsky: There is some progress, but by no means enough, almost anywhere. Evidence unfortunately abounds. The drift toward disaster proceeds on its inexorable course, more rapidly than rise in general awareness of the severity of the crisis.

To pick an example of the drift toward disaster almost at random from the scientific literature, a study that appeared a few days ago reports that, “Marine life is fleeing the equator to cooler waters — this could trigger a mass extinction event,” an eventuality with potentially horrendous consequences.

It’s all too easy to document the lack of awareness. One striking illustration, too little noticed, is the dog that didn’t bark. There is no end to the denunciations of Trump’s misdeeds, but virtual silence about the worst crime in human history: his dedicated race to the abyss of environmental catastrophe, with his party in tow.

They couldn’t refrain from administering a last blow just before being driven from office (barely, and perhaps not for long). The final act in August 2020 was to roll back the last of the far-too-limited Obama-era regulations to have escaped the wrecking ball, “effectively freeing oil and gas companies from the need to detect and repair methane leaks — even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known … a gift to many beleaguered oil and gas companies.” It is imperative to serve the prime constituency, great wealth and corporate power, damn the consequences.

Indications are that with the rise of oil prices, fracking is reviving, adhering to Trump’s deregulation so as to improve profit margins, while again placing a foot on the accelerator to drive humanity over the cliff. An instructive contribution to impending crisis, minor in context.

Impact of European policies on the Global South and possible alternatives

By staff - Recommons Europe, January 2021

The year 2020 was marked by two events that revealed, once again, the limits of the capitalist system. First, the Co- ViD-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, responsible for the deaths of several hundred thousand people and counting, highlighted the vulnerability of human societies in the absence of adequately funded public health services. It also served to highlight which activities are essential to the existence of human societies. Second, the pandemic precipitated the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s. By revealing the fragility of societies where exchanges are extremely rapid and production chains are internationalized, the pandemic also revealed the most irrational aspects of the economic system that governs and structures social relations in almost all parts of the world. Thus, capitalism appears to be incapable not only of providing for basic human needs but also of reproducing its own functioning. All governments that initially try to protect both the law of profit and their citizens’ lives inevitably find themselves tempted to defend the former against the latter.

The neoliberal structural adjustment policies which have been pursued for decades have played an important role in increasing inequality and, ultimately, in the way the epidemic has spread. Contrary to widespread belief, the epidemic does indeed differentiate between origins and social classes, affecting in particular those at the bottom of the social ladder. It has also particularly affected countries that, on the pretext of maintaining strict fiscal discipline, have given up – or have been prevented from – building an efficient and accessible health care system.

Read the Report (PDF).

Marx Didn’t Invent Socialism, Nor Did He Discover It

By Steve Lalla - International 360, December 9, 2021

Revered as the Father of Socialism, in popular conception Karl Marx (1818–1883) is the originator of socialist theory, the creator of a plan implemented thereafter by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other socialist nations. He remains one of the most cited authors of all time, and his writings are endlessly scrutinized and analyzed. Was he standing on the shoulders of giants?

Without aiming to tear down the legacy of Marx or to minimize his contributions to economics and history — a hopeless task that we can leave up to capitalists — we can examine the historical context in which he arose.

There’s no debate that Marx didn’t invent socialism. As co-editor of a French-German radical newspaper by 1843, a young Marx would have read the term “socialism” used by French author Pierre Leroux (1797–1871) — generally credited with coining the term — or the German Lorenz von Stein (1815–1890). England’s Robert Owen (1771–1858) had bandied the word about as early as 1835. French philosopher Victor d’Hupay (1746–1818) called himself a communist author around 1785, thirty-three years before Marx’s birth, and his colleague Nicolas-Edme Rétif (1734–1806) even used the term to describe a form of government.¹

In Engels’ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific he celebrates “the founders of socialism” Saint-Simon (1760–1825), Owen, and Charles Fourier (1772–1837), and refers to the “actual communistic theories” of Étienne-Gabriel Morelly and Gabriel Bonnot de Mably.²

Gerrard Winstanley, in the 17th century, and Thomas More, who wrote Utopia in 1515, were two other notable Britons who wrote about societies where community came before profit, private property was unknown, and in which workers controlled the means of production.

Incidentally, Marx did not draw a strong distinction between socialism and communism. He implied that communism was a stage beyond that of socialism in The Critique of the Gotha Program, published posthumously in 1891. Lenin and others drew out this distinction in greater detail. In general Marx and Engels used the two terms interchangeably.

The justice and equity implications of the clean energy transition

By Sanya Carley and David Konisky - Nature Energy, August 2020

The transition to lower-carbon sources of energy will inevitably produce and, in many cases, perpetuate pre-existing sets of winners and losers. The winners are those that will benefit from cleaner sources of energy, reduced emissions from the removal of fossil fuels, and the employment and innovation opportunities that accompany this transition. The losers are those that will bear the burdens, or lack access to the opportunities. Here we review the current state of understanding—based on a rapidly growing body of academic and policy literature—about the potential adverse consequences of the energy transition for specific communities and socio-economic groups on the frontlines of the transition. We review evidence about just transition policies and programmes, primarily from cases in the Global North, and draw conclusions about what insights are still needed to understand the justice and equity dimensions of the transition, and to ensure that no one is left behind.

Read the text (PDF).

Jobs in a net-zero emissions future in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Catherine Saget, Adrien Vogt-Schilb, and Trang Luu - International Labor Organization, July 29, 2020

A green and inclusive recovery is essential to help confront the climate crisis and build a better future. If we do not act now, the same vulnerabilities that exposed workers and enterprises to the pandemic will expose them to the climate crisis. The ILO estimates that 2.5 million Latin American and Caribbean jobs could be lost to heat stress alone by 2030, affecting particularly outdoor workers in construction and agriculture, and street vendors. The IDB projects that by 2050, climate change damages could cost US$ 100 billion annually to the region.

But the future is not set in stone. As the global economy gradually restarts following the COVID-19 lockdown, now is the time to craft a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future. Progress is already being made. The IDB is working with countries to create strategies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The ILO is also helping countries, their workers and enterprises prepare for the consequences on domestic labor markets. In recent years, with Getting to Net-Zero Emissions and Greening with Jobs, our institutions have shown that a green economy comes with job creation and other development benefits.

For this report, we have joined forces to identify where jobs can be created in Latin America and the Caribbean while transitioning to net-zero emissions. We have found impressive potential in sustainable agriculture, and in other sectors including forestry, renewable energy, construction, and manufacturing. This collaborative effort is the first to document how shifting to healthier and more sustainable diets, which reduce meat consumption while increasing plant-based foods, would create jobs while reducing pressure on the region’s unique biodiversity.

Read the text (Link).

Weaponizing the Numbers: The Hidden Agenda behind the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform

By Sean Sweeney - New Labor Forum, February 2020

Among progressives concerned about climate change, few issues provoke as much anger as the knowledge that governments continue to subsidize fossil fuels. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2017 these subsidies totaled $5.2 trillion annually.

Don’t governments realize that fossil fuels are cooking the planet? The scientific community says we are in a desperate race against time, but the coal, oil, and gas companies apparently still have their noses deeply in the public trough.

Most policy elites think fossil fuel subsidies should go. A decade ago, Group of Twenty (G20) leaders committed to “rationalize and phase out” government support for coal, oil, and gas, a decision supported by major institutions like the IMF and the World Trade Organization (WTO). At a summit in May 2019, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said “taxpayers’ money” was being used “to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word—to destroy the world.”

…[T]here is good reason to be wary of the global elite’s call for subsidy reform

These are fighting words, but there is good reason to be wary of the global elite’s call for subsidy reform. This call is framed in ways that seek to legitimize and universalize neoliberal approaches to energy transition. Activists may think, “So what? If it gets rid of subsidies, what’s the problem?” But there is a real risk that the consolidation of neoliberal policy will produce outcomes that are considerably worse than the outcomes produced by fossil fuel subsidies.

Does the transition to the Circular Economy on a global scale enhance mechanisms of intragenerational inequality?

By Sara Huier - International Development Studies and Global Studies, Roskilde University, April 2019

The study argues that the Circular Economy (CE) model often privileges the Global North economies’ standpoint, revealing a significant inadequacy. Therefore, the present research investigates the extent of the disparities in closed-loop strategies between developed and developing countries. The objective of the analysis is to understand whether these contingencies are relevant and whether they are the display of global economy dynamics that reinforce mechanisms of inequality, conflicting with the Sustainable Development rationale.

It is found that the analysis corroborates the existence of imbalanced drivers, opportunities, barriers and drawbacks between the Global North and the Global South, although potential benefits for the South are entailed. However, it also emerges the existence of critical transnational dynamics which may prevent the achievement of CE objectives globally. The existence of these overlooked and unaddressed global forces is identified as the actual problem of the CE model. Indeed, the narrow focus of the CE on production processes and local, national and regional dynamics diverts the attention from the Global Value Chains. Thus, it is recommended to analyse the global CE structure by applying the Global Value Chain framework, in order to investigate if it is possible to overcome the exposed CE’s limits.

Read the Report (PDF).

Book Review Symposium: This Changes Everything; Capitalism vs. the Climate

By Noel Castree, Juan Declet-Barreto, Leigh Johnson, Wendy Larner, Diana Liverman, and Michael Watts - Academia.Edu, November 2014

In Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Simon & Schuster, 2014), the activist, journalist, and author lays out an argument that will probably be familiar to many readers of Human Geography . Carbon is not the problem, but rather a symptom of the real problem: global capitalism. The purpose of this Human Geography book review symposium is to give serious academic consideration to Klein’s ideas, arguments, and visions of a carbon-free future. Thus in the pages that follow, six geographers—Noel Castree, Juan Declet-Barreto, Leigh Johnson, Wendy Larner, Diana Liverman, and Michael Watts—weigh in with their readings and critiques of Klein’s book. Following these six reviews and concluding the symposium is the full text of the hour-long interview conducted by John Finn with Klein in late 2014.

Read the text (Link).

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