Marama Davidson : Peddling the fantasy of a 'green capitalism'.
While the views of climate change deniers are widely rejected, that can't be said for those who continue to peddle the dangerous fantasy that only capitalism can save the world from a crisis it created.

MOST OF us are well aware of the views of climate change deniers and dismiss their views as the nonsense that they are, but there's a whole lot less awareness about the denialism of a corporate environmentalism that not only won't acknowledge that capitalism is chewing up the planet but insists that it can be employed to combat climate change. While the ecosocialist movement and others have highlighted the fatal flaws of such a view, it continues to be promoted by the political establishment.

One of the practitioners of this insidious brand of denialism is Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson. But she isn't hauled over the coals the way a notorious climate change denier like Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking often is. Indeed her views are welcomed and generally well received.

So when Marama Davidson tweeted this week her thanks for the 'excellent update' from her fellow Green MP and Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage on RNZ's Morning Report about 'getting stuff done to minimise our waste and take steps towards a circular economy' it was met with general approval from her Twitter followers. It got some thirty or so 'likes'. At the time of the writing there had been only two dissents - one of which was me.

The term 'circular economy' is not a term that the either Marama Davidson or the Green Party have used widely before. But the Ministry of Environment, also a supporter of the 'circular economy', has a lengthy explanation on its website about what they think it means. The Ministry describes it as:

'... an alternative to the traditional linear economy in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.'

What the Ministry wallahs are describing is a market economy that is supposedly structured to minimise waste and make the most of resources. The 'circular economy' is a concept presently in vogue both in corporate boardrooms and in government bureaucracies who think they have spotted a way of maintaining our present economic framework and being environmentally friendly all at the same time. Indeed the Ministry of Environment says that the so-called circular economy will 'reduce the impact of climate change'.

But this is little more than a variant on the fatally flawed idea that an environmentally friendly capitalism can replace the present version of capitalism that is relentlessly destroying our environment. This appeals to establishment parties like the Green Party because it suggests that capitalism can have its cake and eat it too. Magically, it can continue to pursue more growth and more profit while at the same time being environmentally benevolent or, at least, environmentally neutral.

But the reality is that it is impossible to protect the planet and effectively combat climate change without abolishing capitalism.

The 'circular economy' exists in its own vacuum because it suggests we can minimise waste and use our resources more effectively without ever having to confront the twin motors of capitalism - unsustainable growth and the drive for ever more profit. 

It also leaves well alone the undemocratic power structures that allow the one percent to maintain their control and dominance over the global economy. To add insult to injury, the exponents of the 'circular economy' casts  the corporates as part of the solution - yet just 100 corporations are responsible for over 70 percent of the world's carbon emissions.

The attraction of the 'circular economy' to establishment parties like the Green Party is that it seemingly offers a way out of our present predicament, without having to disturb the political and economic status quo.

The idea that only capitalism can save the world from a crisis it created should be as offensive to us as the views of climate change deniers. And just as its important to call out the views of climate change deniers we should also be calling out the views of 'green capitalism' merchants like Marama Davidson and the Green Party. They are, I think, equally as dangerous because they convince too many people that we are doing what is necessary to avoid the disastrous consequences of climate change - when we so clearly aren't.

We need a plan that does not involve tinkering with the settings of a failed economic system but involves transforming that system altogether. Its system change or climate change.

As writer and activist Naomi Klein has observed: "we humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems."


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