Year End Week In Review December 31
Today we celebrate a New Year–and the anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution. I apologize for being later than promised with this WIR. I am pleased to announce that I’m reviving postings on the Labor Advocate News Blog.
In two of the three years since adoption of the “historic” Paris climate accord global greenhouse gas emissions have risen substantially. Instead of Paris hopes that fossil burning would peak in 2020 it is now feared it may continue to grow until 2030, perhaps even 2040.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres hit a coffin nail on the head when he told 14,000 delegates and entourage at a recently concluded UN conference,
“It is plain we are way off course. We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.”
Perhaps the most useful aspect of these conclaves like the one that just met in Katowice, Poland is increased climate coverage on news sites such as the New York Times, Guardian, der Spiegel, and the Los Angeles Times. Here are some examples,
A July 17 New York Times story about India admonished,
“In cities that are already scorching hot, temperatures and humidity levels are rising to levels that the human body simply can’t tolerate, researchers warn.”
On October 7 the NYT reported,
“A landmark United Nations report paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding damage requires quickly transforming the world economy….
“The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”
The denier-in-chief in the White House couldn’t block release of similar dire reports about climate change in the USA compiled by 13 Federal agencies as required by law. But Trump’s toadies in the U.S. delegation in Katowice found allies from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Kuwait to prevent COP24 from endorsing these urgent pleas of science.
Nearly the entire agenda in Katowice was devoted to finalizing a Rule Book governing the implementation of the Paris accord. Most of these concern reporting progress—or lack thereof—in reducing carbon emissions in each country. Certainly there is a need for rules—which should have been in place before the delegates left Paris three years ago.
In addition to the lethargic and bungling among the counters there are also some crooks. The same proto-fascist regime in Brazil that protects those who murder indigenous and environmentalists in order to clear-cut the biggest land based carbon sink on the planet also got nabbed for trying to double-count carbon credits for the Amazon.
Of course, accurate record keeping is essential to science and I have more confidence in the honesty and competence of scientists than any other group. On the other hand, the capitalists and their political minions–who are principal reporters of raw data—have not earned the same level of trust. We don’t want our progeny to find the ruling class fiddled the books while the Earth burned.
But rules and records are secondary to the main task emphasized by the IPCC scientists–quickly transforming the world economy.
With the partial exception of Cuba, virtually every country has a capitalist, market economy. Capitalists raise money to invest in ventures that will make even more money. Despite historically low oil prices investment in fossil energy is still more attractive than wind or solar without substantial subsidies. The impact of market measures such as divestment, carbon price, and carbon tax have been negligible.
As Sean Sweeney and John Treat say in this excellent article,
“The market-focused approach to climate protection has failed spectacularly. Using ‘sticks and carrots’ policies aimed at the private sector, governments anticipated a surge of new ‘green growth’ investment that would create millions of good jobs. This did not happen. It is now absolutely clear that climate policy must shift in a radically different direction, and unions can help ensure that such a shift occurs as soon as possible.”
Sweeney and Treat are leaders in the global Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. TUED advocates socialization of all energy and operating under workers management in the public—and biosphere—interests.
The Labor Network for Sustainability in the USA recently started backing the trendy Green New Deal promoted by Greens and “leftist” Democrats. I’ll compare the two next time.
That’s all for this year.