Boris Johnson has triumphantly announced that 2020 will be the “defining year of climate action”. But his time as prime minister has been defined by chronic inaction on climate change. This is hardly surprising, given that the Tories are backed by the very people responsible for destroying our planet - the capitalist class of bankers and billionaires. None of that is about to change!
The global climate strikes, with millions of young people taking part worldwide, have propelled climate change into mainstream consciousness. Despite this, Johnson sees the desire to save the planet as a pastime for weirdos and “uncooperative crusties”. He is even reported to have admitted that he “doesn’t really get climate change”.
So why the sudden change of tune? This November, Britain is hosting the UN summit on climate change: COP26. It is simply Johnson’s turn to now spew out a lot of hot air about how capitalism will fix the planet, whilst behind closed doors business continues as usual.
Johnson’s attempts to paint the Tories as a party that cares about the climate comes shortly after sacking the former head of the COP26 summit and ex-Tory minister, Claire O’Neill. Even she said the government showed a "huge lack of leadership and engagement", warning of Johnson’s empty promises.
The PM’s latest pledges include bringing forward a UK ban on new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars by five years, from 2040 to 2035. This is still five years short of his independent experts’ recommendations for a ban by 2030.
And while electric cars pollute less, the electricity that drives them will still be produced from fossil fuels. We cannot take serious action on climate change unless industry across the board is planned in the interests of people and the planet, not profit.flickr embed.
The preparations for COP26 have been a shambles. There is no final budget agreed. There is also talk of a last minute move of the venue from Glasgow to London, due to so-called ‘security reasons’ (read: anti-Tory protests). And now they have sacked the person running the summit!
Only one previous UN climate summit has managed to reach even a limited agreement. And even this was rejected by Trump within two years. While other countries have not formally withdrawn from the deal, only 16 out of 197 countries meet their commitments.
This should come as no surprise. Capitalism is a system based on competition and the insatiable pursuit of profit. There is no room for long-term planning, or for any measures that would harm the interests of the billionaire class.
The capitalists are the ones responsible for destroying the environment. They have no ability to save it, even if they wanted to. COP26 will be just another opportunity for hypocrites like Boris to spout empty promises, while the world literally burns.
For genuine action, we should look at the militant example of the school students, coming out on strike every month. Students and workers must unite, organise, and arm the climate movement with revolutionary demands. Capitalism is killing the planet. Only a clear socialist alternative can save the planet.