For all the talk about ‘green growth’, ‘green enterprise’ or ‘green capitalism’ the logic of the system
based on profits means that one either stops being green, or one stops being a capitalist.
Already more than 150 years ago, Karl Marx summed up the attitude of capitalism as follows: ‘Apres moi, le deluge. (After me, the flood) That is Moses and the prophets’. More precisely, Marx and his
collaborator went o
n to analyse the effect that using guana (birds’ manure) as fertilizers was having
on European fields. Much to our surprise today they discovered that the very young capitalist system was at odds with the ecological system. Never would they have imagined the kind of environmental damages that the horrible extraction of oil from tar sands found in the Canadian forests of Alberta, to the nuclear power plants of Fukushima, to the BP oil spill of the Deepwater Horizon of the Gulf Coast. He identified the
which meant that humans were at odds with their natural world.
The movements against climate change
Over recent decades powerful movements against climate change have emerged. The Climate Justice movement has been a powerful political actor both inside the climate negotiations as well as outside in the streets, in the indigenous communities of the Global South and Black and Native American communities across North America. They have consistently argued that environmental destruction and climate change are not natural disasters but disproportionately impact depending on what class you belong to, or what colour of skin you have. For the climate justice movement it is not just about changing a few light bulbs or recycling but ultimately about changing the whole system
whereas it remains ambigious whether they just see neoliberalism as the problem; or rather capitalism as a whole. The movements that have emerged across the Global South are inspirational. In the case of Bolivia, President Evo Morales even organised a 20 000-
strong People’s Assembly for
Mother Earth in 2010. It brought together indigenous peoples, trade unionists like the cocaleros, radical NGOs from the Global North and the Bolivian government.
While Morales’ rhetoric rem
ains radical, the recent construction of a highway (TIPNIS project) through indigenous lands has exposed the limitations of a left-wing government committed to saving the planet. In the summer of 2009, we saw a different kind of movement against climate change emerge in Britain. The Danish multinational windturbine company Vestas announced that it would close its only UK factory. 600 jobs were to go. Soon after socialists, environmental activists and most importantly the workers of the plant decided to occupy the windturbine factory on the Isle of Wight.