As the Glasgow climate conference opened two weeks ago, the president of the Republic of Palau, an island nation in the Pacific, said, “There is no dignity to slow and painful death—you might as well bomb our islands instead of making us suffer our slow and fateful demise,” addressing the rich imperialist countries, the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases warming the planet. Palau is at severe risk of drowning in rising sea levels, and the “slow and fateful demise” is fated for hundreds—and hundreds—of millions of people around the world with the current trajectory of global warming.
Scientists have demonstrated that the window to act to prevent irreversible climate and environmental catastrophe is rapidly closing. In the face of this, what did the major capitalist-imperialist countries that dictated and dominated the agenda at the Glasgow conference do? They bickered, and jockeyed for geopolitical advantage, and proved themselves utterly unwilling and incapable of even moving beyond the paltry, empty pledges made at their last major climate summit in Paris in 2015.
Thus the disgraceful “achievement” of the Glasgow conference: it “deferred” action on reducing fossil fuel emissions until next year when governments will go to Egypt to present new empty pledges. That's right, the final agreement signed on November 13 “requests” that countries “revisit and strengthen” their plans by 2022. Yes, wait and delay... wait and delay. Conspicuously—and COMPLETELY—missing from the final Glasgow Climate Pact was precisely what is needed to stem runaway global warming: the massive and rapid drawdown from the production and use of oil, natural gas, and coal.
And so, that “slow and fateful demise” that is leading to catastrophic environmental collapse affecting not just the people of island nations but billions on this planet is being locked into place by the rulers of the planet.
As for other notable acts of non-action at Glasgow: Coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel of all, would (voluntarily) be “phased down,” not even “phased out.” This in blatant disregard of what scientists have been hammering home: there is no way of averting a temperature rise of over 1.5 degrees centigrade (a danger threshold) without keeping 90 percent of coal reserves in the ground.
There's more to the outrage of Glasgow. Take oil. The major fossil fuel producing countries agreed to voluntarily end “inefficient subsidies.” Stunning—let's make those oil subsidies more cost-effective. Take note: over the decades since everyone knew that climate change was happening due to burning of fossil fuels, the governments of the world, seeking competitive advantage against their rivals, have given massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $423 billion each year! Take note: the U.S. is the world's leading oil producer.
The long and short of it all is that the rulers are telling humanity in no uncertain terms: we don't care about the science, we don't care about the threat to civilization and the planet... fossil fuels will remain the foundation of the capitalist-imperialist world economy.1
As for the oppressed countries of the global South suffering the greatest impacts of global warming, the final agreement expressed “concern” that the rich countries failed to make good on previous promises of financial support to these countries. So what better way to redress the problem than to... make new promises.
Insanity or Not?
Commentators are hailing the Glasgow conference for its “historic and unprecedented” reference to fossil fuels in climate change. Yes, this is the fucking breakthrough of Glasgow: the mere mention of the “f” phrase, “fossil fuel”... more than 30 years since the science of global warming and the role of fossil fuels in global temperature rise were definitively established.
The environmental clock is ticking. This capitalist-imperialist system and its rulers are taking humanity over the cliff. Only revolution gives us the chance to save the planet. For WHY this is so, go here and here; for a sense of WHAT this Revolution seeks to achieve, and the concrete vision for a radically different system and society to be established after the Revolution, go to the Constitution for a New Socialist Republic of North America, authored by Bob Avakian ; for WHAT is urgently to be done now to make this a reality, and HOW you can be part of this, go to A Declaration, a Call to Get Organized Now for a Real Revolution.