Everyday Crisis

The COP26, with it’s 515 carbon fuel lobbyists and government lackeys, has published its first draft agreement. It is wet and watered down, weakening commitments to funding first made in 2015.

We all knew the COP26 wouldn’t make the grade, but this level of failure is truly shocking. COP is dead.

And as a result, hundreds of millions will be dead, too. The girth of the Earth between the tropics is experiencing catastrophe. There are at least 50 million people in famine, and hundreds of millions more in precarious conditions of heat, flood, landslides, and water and food shortages. None have been properly represented at the COP Out.

In the industrial North, climate is a concern ”for the future”. Yet we are seeing deepening and accelerating extreme weather events alongside a continued decline in the social infrastructure required for safety and protection.

We are heading, within the next five years, to living a crisis each day caused by climate change.

Last weekend I helped run a march and rally of over a thousand people in my small and poor city of Plymouth. Many attended our people’s Assembly focussed upon discussing ”the Future”. The conclusions were stark, the scale of the changes needed so immense.

But the event added numbers to those now committed to making the change.

It occurred to me that such discussions, about the day-to-day reality of accelerating climate collapse, needed to be understood by everyone. So I wrote to my local tabloid rag:

It is no good pretending. The international climate conference in Glasgow, shorthanded to COP26, is not going to do what’s needed.

Despite the politicians from poorer countries imploring the rich and powerful West to help them, despite Sir David Attenborough and the Princes Charles and William taking a stand, and despite the Big Celebrities of Hollywood and Bollywood sharing their statements, for the Capitalist Class its Business as usual.

And still, when 99% of scientists say we are experiencing (not predicted but happening) climate catastrophe on land and in the oceans, press and politicians join forces to fuel the sceptics and poo poo the science.

Many polls show that the majority of people are very worried about Climate Change. 

The “Greenwash” of lies, misinformation and false-assurances is designed to placate us, but, however powerful they think they are, we’re not fooled.

The day-to-day experience of Climate Change for the working classes of the so-called wealthy West are set for endless crisis. The empty supermarket shelves, transport disruption and fuel-price hikes of the last couple of months are nothing compared with the damage set to be experienced because of global heating. 

The impact of global heating is going to raise sea levels, disrupt the seasons and therefore all food production, and induce extreme weather events from flash floods to wrecking winds and high tides.

Transport disruption will force sudden lay-offs, without pay, of millions of workers at a time as the last-minute production and storage strategies of our industries collapse. Energy outages – meaning power cuts – are predicted by the power companies for the very near future. The addition of fuel poverty will make winter heating too expensive for 10-15 million of us within the next 5-years, increasing the already outrageous numbers dying of hypothermia each winter in our country. 

The floods to our houses, where one-in-five of us live on flood plains, will cause continuous suffering and financial ruin. The rest of us live in some of the worst housing in Europe, with poor insulation and unhealthy damp requiring costly repair and renovation.  

But don’t worry, the insurance companies, mortgage companies and financial institutions have already protected themselves against all liabilities – just look at the cladding scandal after the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Great and the Good implore us to make the changes needed, but what power have we? The scientists focus upon emissions reductions – 8% each year globally from now on if we are to avoid climate collapse. 

However much recycling an individual can achieve has little or no impact given the amount of global heating emissions spewing from factories and offices. The oil and gas companies aren’t going to vote themselves out-of-business.

Just 100 Corporations are responsible for over 80% of all emissions. Many of those are military – arms manufacturing being the most climate damaging single industry of them all. Whatever we do in our personal and family lives, it is Big Business that has to be changed if we are to slow down and stop the catastrophe.

We need a national as well as international governmental body to lay down laws upon the Big Polluters. We need to regulate the emissions towards Zero, not the Greenwashed “Net-Zero”, by 2035 not 2050/60/70/sometime never. 

And for there to be any chance of any of that happening, we have to seize back control. Workers must demand an equal voice over what is produced, why, and how its produced to protect and rebuild the environment and climate. Communities have to take back control from the petit-corruption of ego-centric politicians. The People (we’re overwhelmingly wage-slaves) have to claim back democracy, real democracy, from the Political Class and their fat cat financiers.

The starting point for all this is Protest. We marched through Plymouth City Centre on Saturday.

We have to join together and protest. We have call-out and call upon the business and political leaders to make the changes needed for us all to survive, or get out of our way! We may all have our preferred solution but together we know, we have to protest to survive. 

For me, its System Change not Climate Change. For that we’ll need a revolution!

Tony Staunton

President, Plymouth Trade Union Council

www.plymouthhub4climate.org

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