Katowice and catastrophe

Submitted by AWL on 16 January, 2019 - 12:22 Author: Mike Zubrowski
climate change demo

The outcome of the latest international climate negotiations, COP24, in Katowice, Poland, in December, has been widely condemned as completely insufficient by environmental organisations. Some early proposals would have aimed for a 30% reduction, but then reduction was made voluntary.

There were no collective commitments made to increase emissioncutting actions or ambitions. Commitments did not even align with the goals of the Paris Agreements of 2015, themselves widely recognised to be woefully insufficient.

Commitments and reductions are to be monitored, but there is no serious enforcement, no penalties. And the commitments and reductions are all due to come in a few years time. Many recognise that capitalist interests drove this failure: big fossil-fuel companies, states in which they are based, and governments being unwilling to commit significant finances.

It could have been worse. Some predicted the talks would fall apart entirely given the USA s withdrawals. Agreements were made. Any time bought by slight reductions is valuable. But the agreements were not worth much.

Climate¬change-driven displacement of people is already running at tens of millions per year. COP24 highlighted the issue but offered little concrete action. The rate of carbon emissions is rising, and at an increasing rate! There is a near total consensus among climate scientists that this spells catastrophe within decades.

As revolutionary socialists we have no confidence in the ruling class or their governments to take anything like the bold action needed. The organised working class, globally, must take key industries and the economy into democratic public ownership.

Poland s hard¬right president launched a declaration, signed by 50 of the 200 countries present, emphasising the need for a just transition for workers. But really it was populist empty rhetoric serving to justify inaction on climate change. He was notably pro-coal at points throughout.

Global investors managing $32tn (£25tn) in assets called for an end to coal and greater action on climate change. The EU and various countries, especially poorer countries, made strong statements of their commitments to limit climate change.

Sections of the ruling class recognise that climate change poses a threat to their ability to extract profit from the working¬class, and some think they can make profits from the required re¬engineering. But other, and extremely powerful, sections of the ruling class push for inaction on climate change. Some of the largest oil and gas producers – the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait – refused to “welcome” the recent IPCC scientific report. Australia was notably silent on this.

The Trump administration held a side¬meeting in Katowice to promote so-called clean fossil fuels. Clearer rules around “nationally determined contributions”, NDCs, are supposed to make it easier to compare and aggregate pledges and emissions. There were slight steps forward but they are still very lax. Instead of requiring scientifically robust methods, it allows countries to use nationally appropriate methodologies , i.e. creative accounting. While countries, especially developed countries, are now required to report on money they put towards climate finance, this reporting is very loose and includes commercial loans, equity, and little detail.

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