Son of Kyoto: Copenhagen

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture
Son of Kyoto: Copenhagen

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Quote:

Mark the month: December, 2009. And the place: Copenhagen, capital of liberal, sophisticated, happy Denmark. And the significance, which cannot be overestimated. For it is then and there that [url=http://en.cop15.dk/]the UN will negotiate the successor to the Kyoto Protocols, to be installed in 2012.[/url] Given the ever-diminishing window between the uneasy present and the likely appearance of runaway climate change once positive feedback loops check in, it may well be that the outcome of the meetings in Copenhagen will seal the fate of civilization. It is not too often one gets to say something like that.

Capital is already preparing. Something called the [url=http://www.copenhagenclimatecouncil.com/]"Copenhagen Climate Council"[/url] sprang into being in May 2007. Its mission:

>>presenting positive, achievable and innovative solutions to climate change, as well as assessing] what will be required to make a new global treaty effective. The Council will seek to promote constructive dialogue between government and business, so that when the world's political leaders and negotiators meet in Copenhagen in 2009, they will do so armed with the very best arguments for establishing a global treaty that can be supported by global business. What is needed to succeed is to involve global businesses in the greatest innovation project on climate ever.<<

Good old capital, ever upbeat and optimistic. In a statement which could have come from Al Gore, we learn that "tackling climate change also has the potential to create huge opportunities for innovation and economic growth." Isn't it nice to know that huge opportunities are in the offing?

Global civil society is also gearing up, looking ahead to this year's December meetings in Poznan, Poland, as a prelude to Copenhagen in '09. The [url=http://www.globalclimatecampaign.org/]Global Climate Campaign[/url] can point to some 90 countries where people are organizing from below against the menace of climate change. This is a very good, indeed, necessary thing. It is heartening to see people coming together in so many places to express a new awareness. But the awareness scarcely begins to extend into the realization that capital accumulation is driving climate change; that capital controls the state, transnational organizations like the UN, and the production of ideology; and that, therefore, the existing climate protocols, as well as those likely to be developed in Poznan and Copenhagen, are recipes for doom. It is not reassuring to see on the Global Climate Campaign website a banner montage which includes an image of an activist holding aloft a sign on which appears the words, "Make Kyoto Strong," because the stronger accords like Kyoto are, the weaker will be our ecosphere, and the more threatened the firmament of life.

Source: All Aboard for Copenhagen! by Joel Kovel: Capitalism, Nature, Socialism June 1, 2008 (not available free online)

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

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The disappointing results of negotiations in Bonn last week are indication that industrialised countries are unwilling to make substantial contributions to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

They failed once again to meet the expectations formulated in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In a report in February 2007, the IPCC called for reductions of up to 40 percent up to 2020. Without substantial reductions, it warned, the average earth temperature would rise by more than two degrees Celsius by 2050.

Two degrees is considered the most that earth can tolerate if it is to maintain its ecological equilibrium. A temperature rise beyond this point, the IPCC said, would lead to environmental catastrophes from severe droughts to further melting of glaciers and rise in sea level, and stronger and more frequent cyclones and hurricanes.

The industrialised nations - other than the U.S. - responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, proposed reduction by 16 to 24 percent by 2020 relative to 1990 levels.

The U.S., the largest polluting country per capita by far, did not commit itself even to this. The total reductions offered by industrialised nations add up to far less if U.S. emissions are taken into account.

"If we count the U.S. emissions, then the reductions proposed in Bonn by industrialised nations fall to 10 to 15 percent," Martin Kaiser, climate change expert with the environmental organisation Greenpeace told IPS.

"If we continue at this rate we're not going to make it,"
Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which hosted the meeting in Bonn, told a news conference after the closing of the negotiations. Some 2,000 delegates from 192 nations took part in the Bonn talks.

[url=http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48107]IPS, Aug. 17/09[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Quote:

On the 30th November 2009, world leaders will come to Copenhagen for the UN Climate Conference (COP15). This will be the most important summit on climate change ever to have taken place, and it will determine how the countries of the world are going to respond to the climate threat. The decisions taken there will define the future for all the people of the world. The previous meetings give no indication that this meeting will produce anything more than empty rhetoric and a green washed blueprint for business-as-usual.

There is an alternative to the current course and it's not some far-off dream. If we put reason before profit, we can live amazing lives without destroying our planet. But this will not happen by itself. We have to take direct action, both against the root causes of climate change and to help create a new, just and joyous world in the shell of the old. And so, we call on all responsible people of the planet to take direct action against the root causes of climate change during the COP15 summit in Copenhagen 2009. - [url=

">http://links.org.au/node/487]Source[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

November 30, 2009 [url=http://www.actforclimatejustice.org/]Mobilize for Climate Justice![/url]

Bubbles

One certainly hopes that kobenhavn will succeed where its parent failed. I am not sure if we should count on global business to play a positive role. It is difficult to see them settling on cutting back consumption, the main driving force of climate change.

When I read about the warming of the Oceans, it gives little hope that we will make it.  The cuts that we need now, makes Kyoto look like kids play. Business got us into this mess, and we would be fools to think they will get us out of this.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Bubbles wrote:

It is difficult to see them settling on cutting back consumption, the main driving force of climate change.

The main driving force of climate change is production, not consumption. In any event, simply "cutting back" either production or consumption is not the answer. We need a thoroughgoing sea-change in the way production is organized and controlled. And it's a change that capitalism is both unwilling and unable to make.

Bubbles

I am not sure if we get far argueing about production or consumption, they are very much connected. If we would not consume the fossil fuels there would be no need to dig them up. Capitalism possibly could work, but they would have to do a serious revamping of their cost accounting, sothat social and environmental costs are included, which is unlikely to happen. So I agree a new aproach would have a better chanche.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Bubbles wrote:

I am not sure if we get far argueing about production or consumption, they are very much connected. If we would not consume the fossil fuels there would be no need to dig them up.

I just think you're looking through the wrong end of the telescope. You seem to think that consumption drives production, whereas I say vice versa.

I don't hear a lot of consumers demanding that more fossil fuels be dug up. I do hear a lot of industrialists calling for ever greater amounts of fossil fuels to be extracted from the earth and turned into profits for themselves.

Bubbles

M. Spector,

No need to look through a telescope to see the dependancy of producer and consumer on each other. As a small farmer I certainly would not be planting a crop, if I was not reasonably sure that the product would be consumed. Maybe consumers are not asking for more fossil fuel to be dug up, because they are used to having  it available, the oil industry made sure of that. But if the Middle East went on an oil production strike I suspect the consumers will be ringing the ears off the shovel operators at the tarsands to work overtime.

Maybe to slow down both production and consumption in relative harmony, we need to ban all advertizing, it seems to be one of the drivers of the production/consumption spiral.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Bubbles wrote:

As a small farmer I certainly would not be planting a crop, if I was not reasonably sure that the product would be consumed.

Do you consult with consumers as to what crops they would like you to plant and how many? Or do you make that decision? Would you knowingly plant a crop that consumers wanted even if you couldn't make money from it? Do consumers tell you what kind of pesticide to use and how much? Do consumers supervise your land use to ensure that the soil does not become depleted and the water polluted?

No, you as the producer make all those decisions. If your economic activity contributes to global warming, it's not the fault of the consumers. (It may not be your fault either.)

Quote:
Maybe consumers are not asking for more fossil fuel to be dug up, because they are used to having  it available, the oil industry made sure of that.

Um, yes, the oil industry being the producers. If there hadn't been fossil fuels on earth, the capitalists would still be out slaughtering whales for oil, telling anyone who objects that "consumers are demanding it".

Consumer demand is limited by what is available. The producers decide what is available. 

Quote:
But if the Middle East went on an oil production strike I suspect the consumers will be ringing the ears off the shovel operators at the tarsands to work overtime.

Um, no, that would be the oil companies again.

Consumers do not decide how goods are to be produced in a sustainable and planet-friendly way. Most consumers in the world are living at or below subsistence levels anyway, and have no real choice as to what and how much they are going to consume.

Capitalism was an unsustainable economic system long before the advent of the advertising industry.

Star Spangled C...

Here's a cool site that lets people use social media tools to add their voice to the campaign. http://www.timeforclimatejustice.org/

If you're on facebook or have a blog or twitter account or something, think of adding some of the stuff to it.

Policywonk

M. Spector wrote:

Bubbles wrote:

As a small farmer I certainly would not be planting a crop, if I was not reasonably sure that the product would be consumed.

Do you consult with consumers as to what crops they would like you to plant and how many? Or do you make that decision? Would you knowingly plant a crop that consumers wanted even if you couldn't make money from it? Do consumers tell you what kind of pesticide to use and how much? Do consumers supervise your land use to ensure that the soil does not become depleted and the water polluted?

No, you as the producer make all those decisions. If your economic activity contributes to global warming, it's not the fault of the consumers. (It may not be your fault either.)

Quote:
Maybe consumers are not asking for more fossil fuel to be dug up, because they are used to having  it available, the oil industry made sure of that.

Um, yes, the oil industry being the producers. If there hadn't been fossil fuels on earth, the capitalists would still be out slaughtering whales for oil, telling anyone who objects that "consumers are demanding it".

Consumer demand is limited by what is available. The producers decide what is available. 

Quote:
But if the Middle East went on an oil production strike I suspect the consumers will be ringing the ears off the shovel operators at the tarsands to work overtime.

Um, no, that would be the oil companies again.

Consumers do not decide how goods are to be produced in a sustainable and planet-friendly way. Most consumers in the world are living at or below subsistence levels anyway, and have no real choice as to what and how much they are going to consume.

Capitalism was an unsustainable economic system long before the advent of the advertising industry.

All people in the world are consumers, no matter what level they consume at. We are also all producers, even if all we produce is waste. As there are more and people, it is ridiculous to say that consumption has no impact on production. And industial capitalism does not predate advertising, although it can be said that the advertising industry was an outgrowth of capitalism.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Policywonk wrote:

All people in the world are consumers, no matter what level they consume at. We are also all producers, even if all we produce is waste.

So in your view there is really no distinction at all between producers and consumers. So much for any kind of class analysis of society and the economy. 

Quote:
As there are more and people, it is ridiculous to say that consumption has no impact on production.

And I never said that. I said that the problem of climate change is the result of the capitalist mode of production.

People who want to shield capitalism from criticism in this regard scramble to find other "causes" - like consumption - i.e. blame the working class for consuming too much, while the poor capitalists are forced against their will to pillage the earth in order to satisfy the raging appetites of the lower classes.

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And industial capitalism does not predate advertising, although it can be said that the advertising industry was an outgrowth of capitalism.

Your point being that the advertising industry is the cause of runaway climate change?

Policywonk

M. Spector wrote:

Policywonk wrote:

All people in the world are consumers, no matter what level they consume at. We are also all producers, even if all we produce is waste.

So in your view there is really no distinction at all between producers and consumers. So much for any kind of class analysis of society and the economy. 

There are large producers and small producers and large consumers and small consumers. Any analysis that doesn't take into account the fact that the rich consume far more than the poor is incomplete. The rich set trends in consumption as well as own the means of production.

M. Spector wrote:

Quote:
As there are more and people, it is ridiculous to say that consumption has no impact on production.

And I never said that. I said that the problem of climate change is the result of the capitalist mode of production.

People who want to shield capitalism from criticism in this regard scramble to find other "causes" - like consumption - i.e. blame the working class for consuming too much, while the poor capitalists are forced against their will to pillage the earth in order to satisfy the raging appetites of the lower classes.

Who says it's the working class that consumes too much? The rich consume too much, much of the rest of the planet wants to emulate those richer than they are and the "poor" capitalists recognize that they can make scads money from all this. And it's not the capitalist mode of production so much as the industrial model of production.

M. Spector wrote:

Quote:
And industial capitalism does not predate advertising, although it can be said that the advertising industry was an outgrowth of capitalism.

Your point being that the advertising industry is the cause of runaway climate change?

It's part of the cause of overconsumption. And climate change isn't runaway yet.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Policywonk wrote:

There are large producers and small producers and large consumers and small consumers. Any analysis that doesn't take into account the fact that the rich consume far more than the poor is incomplete. The rich set trends in consumption as well as own the means of production.

That's not what you were saying. You were saying everybody is a producer and everybody is a consumer - a pile of economic nonsense.

The rich consume more per capita than the poor. That doesn't prove that consumption is "the main driving force of climate change", which is the comment of Bubbles to which I addressed my remarks.

Policywonk wrote:
Who says it's the working class that consumes too much?

Trust me, there are plenty of people who think that we can solve climate change by getting everyone to use CFL's and re-use plastic grocery bags.

Policywonk wrote:
The rich consume too much, much of the rest of the planet wants to emulate those richer than they are and the "poor" capitalists recognize that they can make scads money from all this.

The rest of the planet wants to have a secure supply of food and drinking water, a house to live in and a bed to sleep in. For millions, apparently, that's too much to ask.

Policywonk wrote:
And it's not the capitalist mode of production so much as the industrial model of production.

I disagree.

I agree with [url=http://www.ecosocialistnetwork.org/Docs/Tanurro-UpsallaTalk.pdf]Daniel Tanuro[/url]:

Quote:
To address the environmental crisis both realistically and humanely, it is absolutely necessary to understand the specific social and historical characteristics of the capitalist environmental crisis, and to understand the differences between capitalism and previous modes of production.

Pre-capitalist modes of production produced use-values, quantitatively limited by human needs. Labour productivity was low, and growth occurred very slowly. Social crises involved shortages of use-values.

Capitalism produces exchange-values, not use-values as such. Its only limit, as Marx said, is capital itself. Over-production and over-consumption (the first conditioning the second) are inherent in this highly productive system, which is based on ever more profit and ever more growth to produce profit. Social crises involve overproduction of commodities - that is, of exchange-values.

These basic differences shape very important distinctions between present and past ecological crises.

Previous ecological crises, in so-called primitive societies for instance, mainly involved low production communities looting natural resources as a response to food shortages caused by droughts, flooding, or wars.

Capitalism also loots nature, but in a very different way: capitalist looting aims to obtain and sell exchange values, not to satisfy needs, so it causes more environmental degradation than previous societies.

But an even more important difference - a qualitative one - is that capitalist ecological crises mainly proceed from overproduction and the resulting overconsumption. Not only does capitalism use more resources, it does so by developing environmentally dangerous technologies. Each capitalist tries to get surplus profit, also called technological rent, by replacing human labour with machines, chemicals, etc., to improve productivity. Among other problems, this race for more productivity, this permanent revolution in production, leads to the development and use of new technologies like nuclear power, new molecules like DDT or PCB, and even new genetically modified organisms.

Climate change must be seen within that framework.

Policywonk wrote:
And climate change isn't runaway yet.

We've got it under control, have we? Who knew?

Bubbles

M. Spector,

Ofcourse I have to consider the wishes of my customers. There are many items that I could produce more efficiently then the items I produce now, but what would be the point to produce them if there are no consumers. For example : duck eggs. Ducks are a hardy easy to keep bird, they don't stray far, stay together, find food where none seems to be, and lay big strong eggs. But none of my customers want them. So I keep chickens, eventhough they are more demanding on my time and the environment in my opinion.

Most of my customers are also friends, who share their knowledge and experiences quite freely. Often a good scource of information.

What are your hopes with respect to Copenhagen?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I don't have much hope for Copenhagen. The best that could happen is that the US and Canada could be shamed into agreeing to emission reduction targets that would comply with even the relatively conservative and optimistic reduction scenarios called for by the IPCC. If that happens I'll eat my shirt. 

Policywonk

Policywonk wrote:
And climate change isn't runaway yet.

We've got it under control, have we? Who knew?

Not really worth replying to, but it is neither runaway yet nor under control.