A socialist future or no future at all – Strike for the climate!

By Newton Masuku, Carmia Schoeman and Phemelo Motseokae

WASP Comrades at Climate Strike march in Johannesburg

Today WASP comrades joined the nation-wide climate change marches and intervened to show that we need to fight for a socialist future or we have no future at all.

Under Capitalism, everything is driven by the profit motive. This economic system must expand its reach to survive and so it views the environment as just another market to be exploited and plundered for profits. Greenhouse emissions are gases released from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal, that heat up the planet. A recent report by the UN climate scientists pointed out that if these greenhouse emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by further 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. The report warned that if the world economy isn‘t dramatically restructured around green energy within 12 years, then the earth will be uninhabitable in many areas. This of course will spell disaster not only for humanity, but other life forms as well.

At the root of the looming environmental catastrophe is the capitalist system. According to the Carbon Majors Report, only 100 companies have contributed to a massive 71% of the greenhouse emissions since 1988.Among the biggest culprits are companies like Shell, BP and BHP Billiton. Currently, South Africa‘s energy production is heavily dependent on coal. Coal power stations contribute massively to global climate change, and in South Africa, these power stations are responsible for more than half the country’s carbon emissions. Eskom itself, for instance, estimates that air pollution from the 13 power plants across the country is causing more than 300 premature deaths per year. Sasol is another culprit. According to a report by Oxfarm, Sasol is the single largest emitter of Co2 at its Secunda plant, which converts coal to diesel and other fuels. To avoid climate disaster, it‘s essential to break with a system based on the profit motive, which preaches exploitation of humans and the planet without end. Even considering the intentions of well-meaning individuals who do their part to reduce their impact on the planet, it is impossible to substantially reduce emissions within the framework of capitalism.

WASP comrades at Climate Strike march in Cape Town

The technology for greener energy production exists. We can no longer depend on deceptive capitalist politicians that declare climate change an emergency but take no meaningful steps to end it. The climate crisis necessarily entails the end of capitalism and we need to build a movement for socialist change now. Instead of shielding big businesses and having politicians assist them to evade environmental safety regulations, there would be massive public investment in sustainable energy including research into and the implementation of a free, green and efficient public transport system. We must fight for a system change, where we, the working class, can democratically control the economy and secure a future for the majority, and not profits for a small minority. We must fight for socialism!

There is no Planet B!

7 Demands to Stop Climate Disaster:

  1. No time to lose: We need a drastic turn and the end of burning fossil fuel for energy and plastic production in the next few years. We need food that neither ruins the planet nor our health. This demands urgent and qualitative changes in energy, industrial, food and agricultural production, in transportation and in housing.
  2. Needs not profits: Individual solutions are not sufficient for a global problem. The majority of the people on the planet just have no choice. Even if we’d all behave extremely eco-friendly, it would in no way suffice to solve the problem. We need a massive public investment plan: in renewable energy, in high quality, efficient and free public transport, in eco-friendly construction and housing for all, in recycling and repairing facilities. All this is more than affordable – if the wealth we produce is not appropriated by a small elite.
  3. Stop the 100 main polluters: Over 70% of industrial greenhouse gas emissions in the past three decades have been produced by 100 companies. But big business ignores appeals or legislation and the established parties and politicians are on their payroll. We can only control what we own. Therefore, the first step is to take the big energy industries as well as major banks and industries, building, transport and agro-business from the hands of the capitalists into public ownership.
  4. Society in our service: With those resources, a science free from the profit driven limitations of capitalism is possible. Instead of investing billions in subsidies for fuel corporations, we can develop ecological technologies and materials. We stand for everyone’s right to a good jobs and a life free of poverty, oppression, devastation and destruction. The big companies and their colossal power must be democratically controlled and managed by the working class and the society as a whole. This will guarantee that no jobs are lost but converted in socially useful ones with no loss of pay.
  5. Planning not Chaos: Programs for a “Green New Deal” or a “Green Industrial Revolution” point in the necessary direction. But we need to go further, across the limitations of the capitalist system. Instead of the capitalist anarchy of production for profits, we have to plan how to sustainably use the resources of the planet to meet the needs of the majority.
  6. Strike together: It is ordinary people who suffer most from climate change. And it is those working class people who have the power to change history. We need to continue the youth climate strike; broaden it by reaching out to working class people and trade unions and unite in a mighty strike: a shutdown of the capitalist economy. This also shows the potential to take economic power into our hands.
  7. Change the world: Human beings are part of the ecosystem – capitalism is not. Fight capitalism to replace it with a society based on needs, not profits – a democratic socialist society! Make a real difference by joining a fighting, internationalist, socialist alternative.