(In These Times) — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s landmark October 2018 report declared that preventing runaway global warming will require “far-reaching transitions in energy, land … and industrial systems” for which there is “no documented historic precedent.” Oxford University climate scientist and report author Myles Allen explained, “It’s telling us we need to … turn the world economy on a dime.”
To make this turn happen, we need a carefully planned and democratically administered emergency program for ecological reconstruction. But such a program is not remotely reconcilable with capitalism’s imperatives of profit maximization and growth, not to mention private ownership of the means of production. In other words: We need system change to beat climate change.
Under capitalism, economies must grow at a minimum compound rate of 3 percent to remain healthy. “Any slowdown or blockage in capital flow will produce a crisis,” wrote Marxist geographer David Harvey in a 2010 paper. “If our blood flow stops, then we die. If capital flow stops, then the body politic of capitalist society dies.” This generally means a slowdown in investment, falling wages and widespread unemployment.