Devastating fires in California  throughout 2018.

The recently released report by the Inter-Panel on Climate Change starkly warns that we have little more than decade to pull the planet back from the brink of ecological disaster. But the response of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw has been to talk up the 'business opportunities' that climate change will provide.

Jacinda Ardern : Climate change provides 'business opportunities'.
THE PLANET IS ON FIRE. Last year was a record season for wildfires in the United States and this year it could be worse. Fires have swept across California, New Mexico and Colorado. In California the record of largest fire has been broken two years in a row. Fire agencies have warned that the fire season now lasts all year round.

In Australia the New South Wales Rural Fire Service declared the earliest total fire bans in its history this August. The Australian authorities say that the trend has been clear for some time:there has been an increase in extreme weather over the past thirty years and a lengthening of the fire seasons.

In Europe some of the hottest weather ever has been recorded this In August three people in Spain died from heatstroke as temperatures hit 47C. Many more were hospitalised. In Britain the stifling heat has caused railway lines and roofs to buckle.

All this is a harbinger of worse times to come. But as we head towards an environmental catastrophe there is barely any meaningful action from Government's around the world. Instead, CO2 emissions grew to record levels last year.

Last week the devastating report from the Inter Panel on Climate Change warned we have about a decade to pull back from the brink of disaster. But, if history is any guide, little will be done by the world's political elites.

While New Zealand may be a minor player in the global scheme of things that's not an excuse to do next to nothing. But this is exactly what we are doing. The response of Climate Change Minister James Shaw has been to blandly ensure us all that we will be carbon neutral by 2030. By then it'll be just about too late.

Even a mainstream publication like the Dominion is frustrated by the Government's lack of urgency on an issue that the Prime Minister has declared to be the 'nuclear free moment of her generation." In an editorial published last week it commented:

'Grand words have been spoken on the world stage, lofty carbon-zero goals set for some point in the not-too-distant future, and the concept of a "just transition" raised.

But as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the news media in the wake of a truly scary report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a report that painted a dire picture for millions of people and hundreds of thousands of species across the planet, she couldn't help flash those now-famous pearly whites and promote the "opportunity" that exists for the national economy and its people."

James Shaw earlier this year referred again to the 'business opportunities' that climate change could provide. While waxing lyrical on a 'just transition' Shaw said: "We may not be able to fix climate change but we can certainly find the business opportunities and efficiencies which climate change will bring."

So while we are facing a devastating catastrophe in the all too near future, this Government is talking up the 'business opportunities' we can expect as the planet falls over the cliff.

Writer and activist Naomi Klein reminds us that : "We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe — and would benefit the vast majority — are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets."

The only alternative is to replace our present economic order with one that doesn't prioritise economic growth and the drive for profit. But it is an alternative that will never be presented by our establishment politicians whether it be Donald Trump, Angela Merkel or Jacinda Ardern. They represent corporate interests.

We need to look elsewhere for that alternative and it is to be found in the ecosocialist movement. In the United States the Democratic Socialists of America say that there are no market-led 'solutions' to the ecological crisis and are proposing a different economic model.

Similarly in New Zealand the fledgling Organise Aotearoa is a million lights years of the parliamentary parties in its analysis of climate change:

"....corporations will not change their practices unless doing so will create more profit. Politicians have been dragging their feet for decades as scientists have warned us of the oncoming threat. To reduce the harm already being caused by climate change and environmental degradation, we need an economic system that puts people and the environment before profit. It is impossible to create an environmentally sustainable future and avoid ecological disaster without directly challenging established wealth and the capitalist system."

While liberal commentators might talk the talk on climate change it is time they also started walking the walk and stopped behaving as if the market can be modified to alleviate the impact of climate change. We cannot allows the very forces that have generated the planetary crisis to determine how to react to that crisis with the inevitable disastrous results for humanity as a whole. This is little more than crackpot defeatism.


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