The only class that can lead the green transition is our own

BY:Saoirse Theriault| February 14, 2024
The only class that can lead the green transition is our own


One of the most important developments related to climate change since our previous convention has gone largely unnoticed outside of the scientific community. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is internationally recognized by top climate scientists and governments as the authority on the scientific consensus around climate change. One of their main activities is to collect and review the most up to date information on climate change, how it is progressing, and how we might avert it. It releases the results of these in a series of “Assessment Reports” that they have published over the years, in addition to supplementary reports.

The IPCC released its Sixth Assessment Report in parts and the third part, focused on what needs to be done to mitigate climate change, was published in April of 2022. Before that could happen, however, some scientists responsible for working on this part of the report leaked it to the public through Scientist Rebellion. They explained that, while their scientific conclusions were sound, those conclusions were being censored by governments at the behest of big business. They felt the only way to get their findings to the public was to leak their findings before they could be watered down to protect the interests of capital. What they shared was startling.

This leaked report says many things but it makes one thing clear: preventing the climate from overheating by more than 2 degrees will require fundamental changes to our systems for energy, industry, transportation, and even the economic structure of our society. This echoes statements from a Special Report published by the IPCC in 2018, describing the required changes to our economy and economic relations would be “unprecedented in terms of scale.”

Think about that for a moment. Unprecedented in terms of scale? The changes to the economy would be beyond even any of the changes made by the working class in the process of socialist revolutions? As Marxists, we ought to be firm in the belief that the only class capable of leading a transformation on an even greater scale is our own class.

On the other hand, conservative projections have capitalism potentially driving us to 3 degrees of warming or more by the end of the century. A change of 3 degrees might not seem big but it is hard to wrap our heads around the nightmarishly apocalyptic world that capitalism is determined to put us in. Capital and private industry can’t save us. Only we can.

The science is clear, the answer is clear, and we cannot deny either of them. Global capitalism will die by the end of the century. But right now, we stand at the greatest fork in the road in human history. We must determine how that will happen. Option one is that we put capitalism into its grave sometime in the next 20 years. Option two is that capitalism will slink into its own grave with the collapse of global civilization as we know it, taking billions of us with it. The victory of the working class or “the mutual ruination of the contending classes.” Socialism or barbarism.

We are on the clock with only so much time to defeat the power of monopoly and set conditions for us to prevent the worst from happening. This may seem pessimistic or like it’s “climate doomerism”, but that is only if you doubt whether or not we can win if we set ourselves to the task with the appropriate urgency. I do not.

The only class capable of leading the “green energy transition” is the working class in alliance with specially oppressed people of other classes. Furthermore, Indigenous people and the Indigenous nations of this land must play a leading role in this alliance.

Images inserted upon request from the author: Quote from Dr. Peter Kalmus, image by Scientist Rebellion; A section of Scientist Rebellion’s definitive statement on climate change and its political implications (Source: Scientist Rebellion).


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