Greta Thunberg : System change not climate change.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw claims he stands with Greta Thunberg in the fight against climate change. But while Thunberg is demanding 'system change not climate change', Shaw is peddling an insidious brand of corporate environmentalism that is an obstacle in the way of the real change that Greta wants.

THE GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE BEGINS on September 20. It marks a week of activities around the world and, in New Zealand, young people are inviting everyone to join them in a day of action on September 27.

Young New Zealanders, like youth all around the world, are demanding that their government's do more to fight climate change and to do it urgently. Unfortunately when the demand for 'system change not climate change' is getting louder all the time, the response of the politicians, beholden to corporate interests, is to do little more than tinker with the levers of the machine a bit. This is the extremism of centrist politics. 

The face of the Global Climate Strike is sixteen year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Despite some ugly and vicious attacks on her Asperger's, she continues to keep on keeping on. Greta is quite clear about what she wants. In March she told a press conference in Brussels that in order to fight combat climate change we need to change our economic and political systems. It is these systems, she pointed out, that are driving our planet to environmental catastrophe.

She told Democracy Now just five days ago that the Global Climate Strike is about 'disrupting the system'.

Given her clear view that capitalism has failed to effectively respond to climate change, it has been a surprise to see Climate Change Minister James Shaw claim that he and Thunberg are in agreement. In an open letter released this week Shaw claims that he stands with Greta and writes:

'As Greta Thunberg said, “the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change.”

James Shaw : Tinkering with a failed system.
Although he claims to be a political ally of Thunberg and the movement she represents, Shaw continues to peddle the dangerous fantasy of an environmentally friendly capitalism. Since entering Parliament in 2015, Shaw has been consistent in his view that a' green capitalism' can be shaped  via taxes, some appropriate market mechanisms and some light regulation. All that is required are some 'tweaks' to the system that Greta Thunberg wants to see dismantled.

How can Shaw claim he is in his agreement with Greta's call for system change when, as far back as his maiden speech to Parliament, he was extolling the virtues of the 'free market'? He told Parliament:

“I'm a huge fan of the market. When it comes to setting prices and allocating scarce resources it usually beats the alternatives hands down.”

Let's be clear about this. Despite the rhetoric and the sympathetic noises, James Shaw is not a political ally of Greta Thunberg. He represents an insidious brand of corporate environmentalism that stands in the way of the real change that Thunberg wants. He should take Greta's advice and 'wake up and change'.


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