Establishment politicians and press have suggested that the Ukraine conflict could spur a move away from fossil fuels. But instead, it has boosted the profits of the energy monopolies. Only socialist planning can combat the climate crisis.

Establishment politicians and press have suggested that the Ukraine conflict could spur a move away from fossil fuels. But instead, it has boosted the profits of the energy monopolies. Only socialist planning can combat the climate crisis.

The war in Ukraine has provided cover for the bosses in all manner of attacks on the working class – and climate change is no different.

While innocents are caught in the cross-fire of this inter-imperialist war, the fossil fuel monopolies have cynically used this crisis to entrench their own interests and secure future profits.

‘Green economy’

Much noise has been made by capitalist governments and media about the opportunity presented by the war in Ukraine to accelerate the shift to a ‘green economy’.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK International Trade Secretary, spoke about the need to build a ‘green economy’ to “eliminate Russian fuel from our energy mix once and for all”. 

The Guardian has touted all manner of ‘experts’ exclaiming the many ways that the present crisis represents an opportunity to decarbonise the economy. 

In Germany, government ministers have brought forward plans to generate all electricity from renewables by 15 years, to 2035. In the United States, meanwhile, Biden’s energy secretary has proclaimed the need for countries to accelerate the move to clean energy, in order to avoid being “held hostage to Vladimir Putin”.

If one were to believe these promises, you could be forgiven for thinking that the end of climate change is right around the corner. The reality of the situation, however, is very different.

Fossil fuel reality

While the ruling classes have gone to great lengths to greenwash the crisis, in practice they have done anything but move to renewables. Instead, they have only accelerated the descent into climate disaster. 

Not even three weeks into the invasion, Boris Johnson went cap in hand to authoritarian regimes, like Saudi Arabia, asking them to increase oil production. 

Off our own shores, in the North Sea, the Tory government is set to expedite licences for the exploration of new oil fields, while also increasing production at existing oil fields. 

In Germany, the economy minister has announced the construction of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals at “Tesla speed”.

Despite the efforts of capitalists to paint LNG as an eco-friendly alternative, the fact of the matter is that transporting what is ultimately a fossil fuel from the US to Europe does nothing to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Further, these new LNG terminals would have to be used for a minimum of 18-20 years to be economically viable – completely dashing German promises of an energy grid fully powered by renewables by 2035.

In the US, the petroleum lobby has likewise used the crisis to lobby for expedited licenses for the exploration of new oil fields and the roll back of regulations.

Taken as a whole, these manoeuvres stand in complete defiance of claims that the war in the Ukraine will spur the shift to a green economy.

While supporters will say that such moves are necessary to end reliance on Russian energy in the short term, the truth is that LNG infrastructure and new oil fields will take years to come to fruition.

Such projects do nothing to alleviate the energy or environmental crises in the present. All they do is further entrench fossil fuels into our economy, locking in climate change for decades to come.

Broken promises

Such subterfuge by the ruling class and their lackeys in government is nothing new.

When the UK Prime Minister announced an end to state support for fossil fuel exports in 2020, the policy was immediately slashed to pieces and shot full of loopholes at the behest of the polluters lobby.

The list of broken climate pledges by governments goes on, and on, and on, ad infinitum.

The reality is that governments serve the interests of the ruling capitalist class, not the people or the planet. Politicians will always prioritise the profits of the bourgeois, at the cost of the working class.

According to a report from the UK Energy Research Centre, investing in renewable energy would create three times the jobs that fossil fuel projects could. Instead, they build oil and gas infrastructure in search of short-term profits.

The disregard the ruling class have for working people is further proven by their attempts to shift responsibility for the crisis onto ordinary people.

The Guardian has called for a “behavioural change campaign” to shame workers into cutting their energy usage.

Tim Lord, senior fellow at the Tony Blair Institute, has called for people to drive less and switch to electric vehicles. How workers who rely on their cars to get to work – and most certainly cannot afford electric cars – are meant to accomplish this he does not explain.

These ‘solutions’ must be denounced with the utmost vigour. Such systemic problems require systemic solutions. We cannot allow ordinary working people to shoulder the blame. The fault for the climate crisis lies solely with the profiteers and their servants in government.

Socialist solution

The global crisis of capitalism, of which the war in Ukraine is a part, offers no hope for a peaceful or ecologically sustainable future for humanity. 

The only solution to this crisis is to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ control, and transform society along socialist lines. Only once we are able to produce for need, not profit, will we bring an end to the destruction of our planet. 

But such a feat is impossible as long as ownership and control over the economy lies in the hands of the 1%. Capitalist governments will always act to preserve the profits of the energy monopolies, no matter the cost to the rest of humanity. 

A workers’ government would nationalise the energy monopolies, and put them at the disposal of society as a whole. Only then will we end the race to the bottom and create an economy that serves everyone – not just the interests of the super-wealthy.

By combining the best scientific minds with the skills of workers in industry, under democratic workers’ control, we can put all of society’s technological abilities and resources at the service of humanity and the planet.

Unless the current system is smashed completely and a new one built in its place, we will continue to march towards global extinction. The only solution is revolution.