For environmental justice, change the system, not the climate!

While 2017 was humanity’s hottest year, yet again heat records are continuing to be broken, causing  enormous impact here and around the world. Deaths from extreme temperatures, and destruction from increasing amounts of natural disasters are wreaking havoc worldwide. Today, there are already millions of refugees and displaced people fleeing wars and conflicts, but by 2050, the Earth will have more than 250 million climate refugees as a result of such natural disasters. Thus, the agreement to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees as reached at the COP21 in 2015, is the most important imperative. But to do this,emissions of greenhouse gasses must be reduced to a level of 40 to 70% below 2010 by 2050. However, if we continue at the present rate, by 2100, the global temperature will rise to a level between 3 and 6 degrees higher than today. The urgency to take action on climate is therefore higher than ever.

The main culprit of this natural disaster is clearly identifiable: it is the capitalist system based on corporate greed that, to ensure their profits, engage in unbridled exploitation of workers and natural resources.  Because of this, 71% of CO2 emissions come from just 100 companies, not from individuals. For the capitalist class, taking action on the environment is a new avenue to generate new profits, with initiatives of “green capitalism” that are based on mechanisms such as the carbon market that only gives the right to larger companies to buy pollution rights, or as marketing schemes to sell green products as a solution to climate change. Corporations with the motive to continue polluting with near impunity also try to sell solutions under international gatherings like the COP summits, which are sponsored by multinationals, such as the German industrial giant Siemens, BMW, the owner of oil tankers Blue Water, Renault-Nissan, Eaton (manufacturer of parts of aircraft and trucks).This is what part of the ruling class, including Justin Trudeau, are trying to make us accept as a solution.  

The Canadian government, in the interest of large oil and gas monopolies, recently used $4.5 billion in public funds to rescue an oil pipeline on stolen and unceded Indigenous lands, rather than investing in abundant renewable energy. What is also reprehensible is the recent announcement to subsidize the oil industry up to an additional $1.6 billion dollars. With this development, the achievement of the objectives of COP21 are impossible, with the clear signal that this government favours the fossil fuel industry over the need for dire action to secure humanity’s future. At the same time, the Canadian government voted in 2017 to increase the military budget by 73%, a decision that has a significant impact on the environment given that one of the most polluting industries in the world is the US military, an industry to which Canada is strongly linked to through NATO. In addition, military bases, of which about 900 are US-owned or under NATO control, generate a devastating environmental footprint. Further, our government is also eagerly signing a free trade agreement with the United States that gives businesses full powers to sue states that have regulations, including environmental, that impede their ability to generate profits.

Instead of investing billions in the auto industry or aerospace monopolies like Bombardier,  these companies should be put under public and democratic control to ensure they operate sustainably and in the public interest. It is both necessary and possible without great effort to convert these jobs into building more sustainable means of transportation,  such as the expansion of public transit in and between cities. To ensure real environmental justice, it is more than ever time to curtail the power of big business that is ensured by a system where the exploitation of natural resources is at its heart, rather than working according to the needs of the people. Capitalism holds the people, particularly indigenous peoples and their territories, hostage for the imperatives of the race for profit.

It is time to think of corporate pollution as a crime and to have tough legislation against companies that ignore environmental standards. We must work to impose a moratorium on the oil sands and convert the jobs  in this sector into other more environmentally sustainable activities, without loss of wages.

We must make environmental cooperation for sustainable development the center of Canadian foreign policy so that “developing” countries can ensure their green energy transition, while respecting their right to sovereignty. Because of imperialism, where Canada plays a central role, people from colonized states have had a profound environmental injustice imposed upon them.

It is imperialist countries like Canada, France, Great Britain or the United States that are primarily responsible for climate change. Thus, a real commitment to anti-imperialism and peace cannot ignore the need to correct this climate injustice: countries that have relentlessly polluted the planet since the Industrial Revolution have the duty to ensure other countries of the world have  access to development without endangering our planet.

The most important step we can take to achieve this is change our current economic system of capitalism. We must act immediately to unite in building another future: one of environmental justice, one where we reverse climate change, and where we end the oppression of Indigenous people and nations. Finding a solution to this life-threatening catastrophe for humanity on our planet means we must unite in building socialism.

The YCL-LJC immediately demands:

– Oil sands moratorium and reintegration of workers into more sustainable sectors of activity;

– Public and democratic control of energy companies as well as other key sectors of the economy;

– No corporatist presence in our universities: no to polluting and military companies on our campuses;

– Reduction of the military budget of 75% and immediate exit of NATO, the representative of the most deadly and most polluting military-industrial complex of the planet;

– Extension of public services: free public transit and inter-city transportation; more public transport and  trains and fewer cars;

– Polluting is a crime: companies that pollute must be judged as criminals.