20Q: How to Rescue the Climate from Capitalism?

By Sonja Grusch, CWI Austria 

The 1.8 million strong global youth strike on the 15th of March made it clear: the threatening climate catastrophe is having a politicizing effect around the globe. The ongoing destruction of our natural world in all its aspects cannot be ignored any longer: there is no part of earth, no sphere of nature that is not affected. The question is not any longer if we can prevent global warming, but to what extend we can limit and control its effects. It is very little time left and the necessary changes must not be minor but of big scale – otherwise the effects of global warming will be out of control.

  1. What are the biggest problems for the climate?

Socialists in the CWI are part of the struggle around the world for a healthy future, as well as analysing and offering a socialist program. In Nigeria the disastrous effects of oil extraction, especially in the Niger Delta, are taken up by our members. So is the struggle against deforestation in Germany in the Hambach Forest or in Russia in the region around Moscow. Our members have been part of the struggles against nuclear power stations in India as well as against disastrous gold mining in Greece. In Melbourne, Australia, members played a leading role in stopping a big destructive road and tunnel project. We are part of the campaigns to secure drinking water in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and stood with Standing Rock in the US.

The following article deals primarily with the question of the looming climate catastrophe – but the campaigns mentioned above show that we take all problems related to environmental destruction very seriously.

The IPCC Report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) published in October 2018 raised awareness of what was known already: global warming has reached a dangerous level. The future of humankind in the way we know it is in danger. The famous phrase of Rosa Luxemburg, that we face either “socialism or barbarism” is getting a new meaning. In this capitalist system, the future of mankind will have more in common with Mad Max, the Walking Dead or other post-apocalyptic scenarios than with a world we would all like to live in.

Climate change is caused by the constant emission of greenhouse gases, which is leading to an increase in extreme weather events, such as storms, floods, and droughts. What’s more, it is leading to the permanent loss of the polar ice caps and the thawing of permafrost soil. Sea levels are rising and the oceans (in effect the Earth’s largest “lungs”) are becoming increasingly acidic. In addition, there is an unbelievably large amount of plastic swimming in ocean currents and micro plastic that is detectable in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and therefore in human bodies as well. Habitats are changing at such a high speed, that the affected species can adjust only with great difficulty, if at all. Desertification and sea level rise are leading to a loss of agricultural acreage, especially in regions that already suffer under the systemic injustice of the dominant economic system. This adds to the negative effects of the capitalist agriculture and farming model which, to only name some effects, wastes water, destroys the rainforests and changes the nitrogen-balance with severe effects.

The fight for resources like water, including drinking water, is increasing. Extinction is accelerating and the relocation of climate zones is allowing for the spread of a multitude of diseases. People across all continents are forced to leave their homes, becoming climate refugees, adding to the existing number of refugees. Waste, including nuclear waste, can make entire tracts of land uninhabitable. We are in the midst of a global environmental catastrophe. The question is not whether things will get worse, but rather to what extent things will get worse.

  1. Is humanity the problem for the environment?

Human beings are a part of nature. Since Homo sapiens started building settlements, we have shaped our environment, with especially long-lasting consequences. It is impossible to interact with nature without changing it. The regulation of rivers, the generation of so-called “cultural landscapes,” but also the clearing of forests in entire regions since antiquity – all of this shows we have changed our environment for an extended period of time, in order to use it for our needs.

But over the last 100 years this influence has reached a new quality. Human activity has affected the ecosystem of the earth so greatly that it is being reflected in the atmosphere, the water, and the soil, which will also be more ascertainable in the distant future as a result. That is why some scientists are talking about the “Anthropocene,” the era in which people began to significantly affect the environment.

  1. Why has humanity impacted the planet so strongly since the 19th century?

Humankind must always be seen as part of a social and economic system. Since the 19th century this system has been capitalism, dominating all regions of the world to the greatest extent possible. We’ve seen the industrial revolution, the growth of the population and industrial mass production which under the framework of capitalism led to large-scale exploitation and use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas). The lion’s share of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere came in the period following the world wars, not from the era of the “Industrial Revolution(s)” – that is, in the last 60 years. That is because capitalism is the ruling system on the whole planet that affects every continent and country. We might not see the smoking factory chimneys of the 19th century in the advanced capitalist countries nowadays – but they still exist in other parts of the world. The enormous amount of international trade, including the tendency to not store products but send them round in trucks, as well as the increased mobility which was not organized by states but left to be organized privately has led to an explosion of traffic – to name just some of the problems.

  1. How long have we known that there are problems?

Not just since yesterday! In 1845, the socialist Friedrich Engels described the drastic level of air pollution in the industrial cities of England. In the 1880s there were debates in the German Reichstag on maintaining a clean water supply. In 1895 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius presented his research, in which he described the effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases. He identified CO2 as a prevailing trace gas for the global climate. Since the late 1950s, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been measured by the so-called Keeling Curve. Since the 70s, there have been multitudes of different research on the climate and climate change. Likewise, numerous summits have taken place and agreements have been written and not been implemented, such as the Montreal Protocol on substances (1987) which lead to the disintegration of the ozone layer. The first world climate conference under the aegis of the United Nations was in 1979! In reality, the goals of such agreements have never been achieved.

  1. What exactly does all of this have to do with capitalism?

For capitalists, nature is a free source of wealth. It can generate enormous profits through the skilful use of human labour. Capitalism is driven by the necessity to always make more and more profit. Everything is commodified, including the entire natural world, which also includes human beings.

The system of competition is readily presented to us as “facilitating innovation,” but the opposite is the case. Research is prioritized primarily in fields that promise profit. Findings from scientific research are not exchanged, but rather are protected by patent.

Production only takes place when it appears profitable. The chaos of under- and overproduction reigns supreme, measured in terms of what can be paid for, and not in terms of what people need. Some needs are artificially created and products are produced with purposely short lifespans, known as “planned obsolescence.” Everything occurs in an effort to get ahead in market competition.

Added to that, the economic system lacks democracy entirely. Even where there are elections and parliaments, there is hardly any influence on what is produced and how those things are produced. The economy follows its own capitalist rules, and in this way, a small minority of capitalists worldwide makes decisions on our future, merely driven by their short-sighted motive to obtain profit.

  1. Can we beat capitalism at its own game?

Those who stay within the framework of capitalist thinking jump to the conclusion of using capitalism to encourage ecological businesses, such as emissions trading (also known as cap and trade) and green taxes. The problem is that this simply does not work under capitalism. Emissions trading has long been touted as a market solution to reduce of greenhouse gases. In 1997, a CO2 emissions trading accord was agreed upon in Kyoto, but the whole thing fell apart because it brought competitive disadvantages to firms and was therefore practically removed by “their” states. Now the ruling classes in large imperialist states such as Russia and the United States sabotage climate measures, like emissions trading, in favour of their respective influential corporations and their alleged “national interests.”

Aside from this massive fraud, there were always loopholes and special authorizations, and the caps were always moderate. It was therefore easy (and cheap) for companies to continue to emit CO2. As is the case for green taxes, the costs are simply passed onto consumers, who already have to cope with the pressure of cuts to social services and sinking wages as it is. The so-called “green taxes” are moreover often measures that disproportionately affect those with lower incomes, who do not have the possibility of using healthier or more sustainable products. And if a corporation begins to actually be run in an environmentally friendly manner, then it will experience a competitive disadvantage which no business can sustain long-term, especially on an international level. The consequence of this is “green washing” (companies faking an environmentally friendly image).

  1. But surely there are companies that can make a profit with environmentally friendly products and production – why is that not the case for the entire economy?

In recent years, protecting the environment has become a profitable branch of the economy. There is furniture that is being produced in a (more) environmentally friendly manner, organic food and clothing, and even eco-friendly investment opportunities in finance markets. All of these serve as examples to “prove” that green capitalism is possible. But here we find a fallacy. We are talking about products aimed at a relatively small portion of consumers, namely those who can afford to pay more or can accept the cost of taking longer paths to obtain goods. The vast majority of people simply lack the spare change for such purchases.

Sustainable production does not necessarily have to be expensive, but it is necessarily less profitable for businesses. If products are more durable and longer-lasting, then fewer units will be sold. Green business is moreover an area that is heavily influenced by economic cycles. Should the incomes of the middle class shrink during an economic crisis, then this market suffers especially.

In reality, this “green” branch of the economy is often times not green at all. Solar panels or organic products are ultimately another market that best lends itself to cultivating an image. The European energy corporation RWE is happy to advertise with pictures of wind turbines and green pastures. However, its energy mix consists of a hefty 66% coal as well as over 20% nuclear. Another example is the increase of the production of biodiesel, which causes irreversible deforestation of rainforests and droughts, and is also linked to land grabbing. As long as “organic” remains a label under capitalism, the environment will see little benefit from it.

  1. Can the state motivate businesses to act more ecologically?

Of course, one can try to use the state to motivate businesses to produce in a more environmentally friendly manner through subsidies and taxes. But this concept assumes the existence of a state that is truly independent, which it is not. Instead, the state is an extension of capitalist interests. In bourgeois democracy, this power that corporations have over the state is occasionally mitigated through mass movements and struggles. But once it becomes a do or die situation, then it becomes clear who has true control.

Investments in renewable energy have decreased again, partially because state funding fell in the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis, or dangerous nuclear energy is being funded, in order to marginally improve the net carbon footprint. “Naturally,” politicians pay lip service to environmental protection and sustainability, but always without failing to add, “so long as it doesn’t harm the economy.” When they say “economy” here, they mean “capitalists.”

An essential problem is also that the climate and climate change are international; solutions in nation states can therefore only be the beginning, which is achieved through pressure from below. Nevertheless, we need international solutions first and foremost, which fail under the interests and contradictions of capitalists and nation states!

  1. How much influence do I have as a consumer?

The “power of consumers” is readily named as the basis for possibilities of change. The thinking goes that if we buy locally and ethically, then we can strengthen this sector and other companies will follow suit. That is the hope, at least. Leave aside the fact that most people on the planet have no choice what to consume because of a lack of money. But even for the rest, the reality unfortunately appears to be different. A large portion of production happens entirely independent of the buying decisions of consumers.

As consumers we stand at the very end of a long production chain, whose intermediate steps we neither oversee in its entirety nor control. Already the task of merely buying jeans demands the impossible task of checking every stage of production and sale, including under which environmental and work conditions the cotton was planted and harvested, and how the cloth was woven, dyed, and sewn. On top of that, these entirely ecological jeans (at least, according to the label) are guaranteed to be transported by trucks, diesel ships, and planes fueled by jet fuel, all of which conventionally pollute the environment.

Additionally, the capitalist economy does not work in the sense that businesses deliberate or even ask what people really need, and then try to supply the demand. Production occurs in order to make profit. The demand follows the supply, and not the other way around. Did we all demand poorly manufactured disposable products filled with pollutants? Aside from the consumer goods sector, there is also the entire portion of the economy that produces materials and machines, such as the enormous weapons industry, which is completely unaffected by individual consumers.

  1. Is environmental destruction a women’s issue?

Of course, the destruction of the environment affects everybody, but women are especially hard hit for various reasons. On the one hand, women are more likely to be poorer than men, and therefore can’t afford to eat healthier, purchase more sustainable products, or live in safer apartments. In many parts of the world, women are responsible for agriculture, housework, and sourcing water. But if water becomes scarcer due to droughts or desertification, then it means that women must trek further distances and work longer hours just for the bare necessities.

Many of the measures that “we all” put in place in industrialized countries to protect the environment, also means more work for women. Take diapers for example. If someone cannot afford the expensive, eco-friendly disposable diapers, then the pressure to switch back to diapers made out of cloth materials increases, which obviously must be washed. Regardless of whether this is more environmentally friendly in the end, it means more unpaid labour for already stressed mothers anyway.

  1. What does capitalism and climate change have to do with refugees?

Capitalism exploits both people and nature on a global scale. In the advanced capitalist countries, due to protests there are known restrictions to that exploitation, although often undermined by the pressure of big business. In the neocolonial countries of the so-called “Third World” however, the overexploitation of natural resources can operate unimpeded. Entire regions are permanently destroyed, and people are treated like slaves. In addition to that there are the effects of climate change.

Through increasing sea levels, salinization, and desertification, entire swathes of land become uninhabitable. People have to leave the countries they have long called home, because there is no food, no clean water, and no chance of survival. Around 150 million people live directly on the coasts of our world, which will likely be swallowed by the sea by the year 2100. Those who deny and at the same time cause climate change are often precisely those that stir up hatred against refugees and therefore also want to seal the borders. The victims of such policies are millions of people!

  1. What must be done to save the planet?

In 2015, 196 states signed the Paris Agreement to put measures in place, in order to maintain global temperature increases at around 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Recent insights of polar research indicate that even the complete loss of the ice in Greenland cannot be ensured in the long run. Nonetheless, in order to be able to survive in such a “more than 2 degrees” world, the use of fossil fuels would have to be reduced immediately on a mass scale, not sometime “in the future”.

There is no lack of ideas or concepts. The first patent for a solar panel to generate warm water was awarded in 1891 and the first silicon solar cell was produced in 1954. The fundamental technologies needed to use the energy of the sun, wind, water, and biomass have been available for decades. All necessary applications are already available. Transitional technologies are also no longer needed. The level of efficiency and cost-benefit analysis that is possible today is extremely impressive. The various vulnerabilities and inborn weaknesses of the systems of renewable energy carriers are a thing of the past.

The funding of public as opposed to private transit is entirely possible and more importantly necessary. This isn’t happening though, since public transit is being privatized, fares are increasing, and routes only travel through areas that are profitable. Added to that, side routes are being cancelled. Everyone knows the story that “earlier” washing machines lasted at least 20 years longer than they do today. Nowadays, they break after a few years at most and the repairs aren’t worth it anymore. (For reference, industry insiders typically quote that one year of durability equates to €100 acquisition cost). But products could be built to be more long-lasting and reliable. Namely, when we go shopping, what we purchase is recorded by our debit cards. With this information, companies could plan for what is needed with great precision. Such planning, if it would occur at every level of society and not only among various competing companies, could prevent over- and underproduction. In this manner, the vast majority of food would not have to be thrown away. The newest technologies could be deployed in order to save energy. There is no lack of concrete ideas or technological preconditions, but rather a lack of execution! The fact that this implementation is not being tackled has its roots in the ruling economic and social system.

  1. How should we achieve this? Who will help us?

Many people are mobilizing globally for “environmental protection.” We cannot rely on the establishment political parties, that much is clear. They have had their chance – and have failed. In response to this failure, many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have emerged, from Greenpeace to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). At the beginning, they consisted of committed and honest activists.

These organizations try to influence political decision makers by lobbying and building up political pressure. But even when they organize partially “radical” actions, such as Greenpeace does, their solutions nevertheless always remain “pragmatic.” But at the end of the day, what they say is: donate some money and the NGO will do the campaign work for a somewhat longer-lasting world for you. But they do not try to shake up the foundational problems of the capitalist, profit-driven economy. It is of course important when scientists and celebrities raise their voices. However, we need “normal” people, who recognize the problem and can develop a common strategy of how to permanently change the situation at hand. We are many and without us, nothing will work.

The economy cannot continue without the workers. If we don’t work, then everything stands still. Anyone who works in a factory, an office, a supermarket, a school, a hospital, etc., is a worker, and we actually hold the greatest power in society. The greatest improvements in the past decades were accomplished when workers and their organizations, labour unions, and workers’ parties of the time fought for them.

  1. Trade unions? Really? But they are on the other side!

It is true, that trade union leaders all over the world have stood mostly on the side of those causing environmental degradation. This was and is the case when activists tried to stop enormous building projects, chopping of forests and various power stations. Always there was an attempt to pit the workers’ interests against the environment. But environmental protection is not a “luxury issue” for the well-to-do.

Workers are suffering right now from environmental destruction due to the presence of toxic materials in workplaces, and pollution in recreational and residential areas. Jobs are annihilated by capitalism and its crises, not by environmental regulation. Nevertheless, the union leadership often follows the logic of the businesses, which claim that environmental protection would eliminate jobs. While they have no goals, and do not lead any real fight to stop job cuts and privatization (like in the transit sector, for example), they hope for jobs in major projects.

Today, there are many in the union leaderships that argue that environmental protection can create jobs, but that argument is not much better. The problem with the union leadership is that their entire argument operates within capitalist logic and therefore they end up supporting mega projects as well as ecological production. But in order to actually represent the interests of their union membership and the working class as a whole, it is necessary for them to break with this rigid, profit-oriented logic. The unions are the organizations that have the power to organize strikes and major struggles of the working class. In order to bring them to that point however, we need a strong left and rank and file taking the leadership in the unions, democratic structures in the unions themselves, and a break with the established political parties.

  1. If the living standard of all increases, if everyone on the planet has a car and travels around – doesn’t that mean an ecological disaster beyond all expectations?

We are for a society in which every person has what he/she needs, but by that we do not mean that everyone owns at least three cars and that even more disposable products are produced. We are not in favour of continuing poverty for the billions suffering it and we are not in favour going back to the times when people also in the advanced capitalist countries froze in winter, died from minor wounds or starved. A life with dignity where all our fundamental needs are covered is everybody’s right!

Through sensible planning and the usage of all technological possibilities (including new inventions, which will be possible when people are no longer held back from researching in solidarity with one another due to things like poverty, the nuisance of patent law, etc.) it will be possible for everyone on the planet to have a good life without destroying the planet. When we say growth, we mean something entirely different from the capitalists. For them, it always means profiting from increased production, i.e. the exploitation of people and planet. We mean a growth in quality: healthy food and a healthy planet, stress-free and self-determined work without long commutes, a social safety net, and more possibilities to enjoy leisure activities.

  1. What does your alternative look like?

In order to maintain the planet for people to some extent, we must rescue it from capitalism. The economy must be organized based on the needs of humankind, which means that all of us have and can obtain everything that we need. At the same time, we must produce in such a way that our environment does not ultimately perish because of it.

Only 100 companies have been responsible for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. At the end of the day, it is a question of who owns and controls the economy. So that we can ensure that the economy functions in such a way that it is sensible and tolerable for people and nature, it must belong to us.

As a first step, we need to expropriate the largest corporations into public ownership. If they belong to us (the entirety of society, that is the poor and the working class people), then we can also decide what, how and how much is produced. For this we need democratic structures which permeate the entire economy and society, which will go far beyond liberal parliamentarianism. Such a socialist society could produce sustainably AND effectively repress poverty, war, and misery.

  1. But wasn’t the environment being destroyed in the same way under “socialist” states?

It is true that massive environmental destruction occurred in the Eastern Bloc, in the Soviet Union, and in China. The reason for that is precisely that they were not socialist states. Capitalism was admittedly abolished, but there was no workers’ democracy, but a dictatorship ruled by a bureaucracy. Production was accordingly organized with a devil-may-care attitude. Catastrophes right up to Chernobyl in 1986 were the consequence.

But it was not always that way. Immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution there was a series of the green initiatives. Forests, mineral deposits, and water were nationalized and thereby the profit-oriented economy was eliminated. This led to reforestation, the founding of the first conservation area in the world, as well as to the establishment of a multitude of environmental organizations. Aside from the model of the “green city,” the field of ecology was also researched with great emphasis.

Only once Stalinism took power over the course of the 1920’s and 30’s did the Soviet Union fall back into the well-known overexploitation of natural resources, because of the removal of any kind of real democracy and workers’ control and management. Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary and opponent to Stalinism, once emphasized, “A nationalized planned economy needs democracy, as the human body needs oxygen.”

  1. Would a planned economy be better for the environment?

The current economy is run chaotically, yet at the same time with exact calculation. Individual companies plan internally very precisely, but without coordinating with others. This leads to either shortages or surpluses. No company cares what is actually needed, but rather what can most profitably be sold. And when calculating costs, they only take the immediate production costs into account, while at the same time the externalities (e.g. a destroyed environment) are passed onto society.

In a democratically planned economy, in which we all deliberate together, protecting the climate and the environment would automatically be important factors. We could ensure a massive expansion of public transit and thereby make private transportation largely obsolete. We could create jobs near residential areas, or sustainable housing near work places, and consequently prevent long commutes and create more free time. We could replace unnecessary and bad products with long-lasting and sustainable ones. We could use all technological possibilities and create new ones to save energy, reduce pollutants, manufacture greener products or apply more ecological production processes, which are currently left on the back-burner due to profit interests. Only on the basis of democratic planning, only in a society where true democracy permeates every facet of our lives, is there a chance that we will somewhat manage the consequences of climate change which have started already.

  1. Do I have to give up a lot for the well-being of the planet?

Environmental protection is often portrayed by the right, who readily deny climate change (and some others even glorify it as positive), as being against modernity. Yes, there are now and again some environmental activists that think that industrialization in itself is the issue and that we should turn the clock back to a time before industrialization. That is not only unrealistic because the infrastructure of the industrialized world has to be maintained, in order to prevent catastrophe. But also, such a society is plainly undesirable. Clean hospitals, the possibility of travelling, warm homes, good food, the internet, and so on: we rightly do not want to renounce any of these things. The answer to the question of whether people must give up something in a democratic, ecological, and socialist society is both yes and no. For the vast majority of people, such a society will bring a marked improvement to their quality of life, because hunger, war, and exploitation will be ultimately abolished. First and foremost, those that are outrageously wealthy and live off of the costs of others must do without their special privileges, but all of our lives will rightly be changed as well. Without the continuous advertising of the fashion industry, telecommunications, without the deception of the auto industry, we will value things other than the constant purchasing of new clothes, cars, and phones. Dangerous and unhealthy jobs could be replaced by better ones, and through a reorganization of the whole economy it can be guaranteed, that everyone has a properly paid job but no-one is overstretched due to work pressure. In the advanced capitalist countries the question of flying is a big issue and a restriction is demanded. We would comment: for most people on the planet a socialist society would give the first time a chance to travel for leisure at all. And for all of us our lives will change and give us proper paid work AND more leisure time: Once we have more time, we will more easily be able to take trips by train and witness the change in the landscape and the time zones, instead of just rushing from continent to continent on an air-plane.

  1. What can I do?

There is nothing wrong with separating trash, bottles deposits, walking or taking public transportation, eating little meat, saving energy, and much more. There is nothing wrong with making an effort to have an attentive and healthy relationship with nature and other people. That so many people are ready to change something about themselves and even to quit certain things shows that people are no way “too selfish” for a socialist society! But at the same time, it must also be clear, that a change in our individual behaviour is at best a drop in the bucket. In actuality all kinds of campaigns, where we are all called “to do something”, can constitute a diversion tactic to distract from the greatest environmental sins. Yes, it is about what every individual can do. Every individual can bring about change, if they lock arms with others to organize resistance short and long term and overthrow the system, which is responsible for the climate catastrophe. We understand the scepticism to parties, considering people’s experience with corrupt parties that are divorced from reality and are only after our votes. That is why we need a new, real socialist party that links the interests and struggles of working class and young people. That is why we are working on building a new, broad workers party with democratic structures and a socialist program as a motor for struggle. We are a revolutionary international organization that stands for a fundamental change in society, because climate change and capitalism can only be fought together internationally! The call for a “general strike” for the climate in September 2019 can be a next stage in the struggle. We will participate in the building of this day of protest to debate and struggle for a socialist program, democratic structures and a fighting strategy. Join the fight!

In a number of countries ideas are raised for a “Green New Deal” or similar programs. They correctly point to the urgency, the understanding that serious changes are necessary and the willingness of people to “do something”. Some of these include quite far reaching demands but often do not clearly say that they cant be reached within the frameworks of capitalism. And they lack a strategy how to get there. We therefore want to put forward the following list of demands which is far from complete, but gives an idea of the necessary concrete steps:

  • The end of burning fossil energy sources in the next years. This means qualitative changes in transportation and production.
  • Immediate transition of the electrical grid towards 100% renewable energy sources. A complete phasing out of each and every form of electrical production based in fossil fuel as well as nuclear fission. Through a 10- to 15-year plan, this would be broadly viable in every industrialized nation.
  • To make that possible we need the nationalization of all energy and fuel multinationals (electricity, mining, oil and gas, wind and solar energy companies, etc.), and a public investment plan to establish a 100% ecological and sustainable energy industry. No to energy poverty!
  • As a first step shut down all lignite-fired power plants immediately. Nationalization of large mining companies by democratic bodies on a local and transnational level. Transparent common decision-making processes in relation to “wastelands”. With such a plan, jobs lost in the mining sector could be replaced by better and more secure public jobs without a loss in pay in the process of re naturalization as well as reclamation of land.
  • For a free, quality and ecologically sound public transport network. Massive expansion of the rail networks for local and long-distance traffic. Commuting flow can become more strongly guided through an expanded and convenient public transport network.
  • An end to the privatization of transportation and a renewal of nationalization. A massive public investment plan to make cities 100% sustainable and to expand public transport. Immediate implementation of free fares as a first step in establishing local public transit. Price decreases and government control of all climate-friendly means of transportation, including long-distance transit.
  • Step-wise downsizing of automobile production with combustion engines, accompanied by an expansion of free public transit. Temporary arrangement of trucks (in coordination with the expansion of railways), buses, small businesses, dependent upon size and area of application.
  • Increased regulation of air travel based on the needs of the whole society. Massive nationwide and transnational infrastructure packages for the expansion, guarantee, and adjustment of rail networks. Cutting working hours without cutting pay to make more time for travelling available.
  • To make such a plan possible we need the nationalization of the automobile, aeronautical and naval industries and transformation of their production to make them viable and non-polluting. Possible compensation only taking into account subsidies received and costs of environmental damage caused, and for small shareholders.
  • Nationalization of agricultural, livestock, and food industries. No to the capitalist exploitation of the oceans. Planning in the agricultural industry. Stop land grabbing and damaging agricultural production by the big agro businesses. Reorganization of land use. For sufficient, sustainable, ecological, and healthy food for the entire population of the world.
  • Economic planning for the construction and cement industries from a transregional to national basis. A policy for sustainable construction – not cheaply built housing. Public investment in the heat energy sector (heating, warm water, etc.) with the goal of raising the proportion of renewable energy to 90% by 2035 globally. Such a program must be internationally organized and breaks the logic of capitalism.
  • Offensive steps towards nationalization of house work. Professional and sustainably organized cooking, cleaning, washing, etc. can unburden woman above all and saves human and natural resources.
  • Immediate stop of senseless and destructive production such as advertising and armament. End to the production of intentionally short-lived products and unnecessary use-and-throw things. Change of production with an end to dangerous micro-plastics and replacement of unnecessary plastic products. Conversion to sustainable products and production methods.
  • Public investment programs in the expansion of all practical forms of recycling and “urban mining” (using waste as raw materials). Creation of government-funded recycling and upcycling centres, including bicycle rentals in every major city with jobs for skilled and unskilled works with a minimum wage of 15 dollars per hour. For public recycling companies under Job guarantees without any loss of pay for the employees working in environmentally destructive fields and careers. An education package financed by the profits of those corporations for immediate re-education measures in these sectors.
  • For a comprehensive campaign in labour unions and workplaces to remove the alleged conflict between “environment” and “jobs” and to show the opposition lies much more between capital and labour.
  • We need militant union campaigns for the improvement of work conditions, with an emphasis on the renewable energy sector. These have to be organized under the active participation of all those affected and with the declared goal of the creation of additional, sustainable jobs in this sector.
  • Climate activist groups and organizations, fighting trade unions and the scientific community should elaborate a set of obligatory guidelines for production of commodities on the basis of maximum sustainability and energy-efficiency. Such equipped mass-campaigns should include consumer organizations to name and shame every company not immediately fulfilling those requirements; prepare the ground for necessary and inevitable nationalizations and confiscation of climate-hostile companies.
  • Every profit interest must be sidelined without compromise. Transfer of energy, auto and industrial groups into public ownership under democratic control and administration by elected representatives of the workers, trade unions, consumer and environmental organizations and society.
  • Drive out all governments which are subordinate to the fossil-industry-lobby and reactionary oil-regimes like the Saudi monarchy as well as all governments that stand on the deadly logic of capitalism. Drive them out by mass movements to replace them with qualitative new forms of governments assembled from working people, fighting trade unions, climate/climate-impact scientists and small farmers.
  • For sustainable production, planned democratically by the whole working class and youth. For the socialist and ecological transformation of society.
  • On the basis of a democratically-run socialist society an enormous amount of resources could be saved through the reduction or abolition of the arms industry and unnecessary advertising. For example, a complete reorganization of plastic and packaging industries, which is not possible without expropriation of said industries.
  • The economy and society must be democratically administered and controlled society by elected representatives of the workers, unions, consumer and environmental protection organizations, and public administration. All people in leadership roles must receive the average wage of skilled worker, and elections, as well as recall elections, must be possible at any time.

Join the fight – get active now! Distribute this text amongst colleagues in your workplace, school or university and neighbourhood. Discuss which set of demands are a starting point to bring in more people to be an active part of a movement; plan public and local campaigns for ordinary people to join. Try to coordinate with other radical climate-activist-groups on a national and international level. If convinced by our arguments, join our worldwide socialist organization as the most conscious effort to prevent at least the total disaster capitalism is heading for. There is no alternative!