A broad range of activists will join together once again this Saturday to march on Parliament, demanding urgent solutions to climate change.

Climate change march

The pivotal importance of climate change is only underlined by the context of the swingeing cuts across the public sector planned by the ConDem coalition.

The only way of effectively restructuring our economy to prevent runaway climate change is to construct a different economic agenda – one in which people’s needs take precedence over restoring the profitability of the system from the point of view of the financial elite.

A superficial approach to the problem of climate change might be to imagine that the sort of austerity programme planned by the political mainstream (and Labour’s plans can only claim to be a lighter or slower version of ConDem austerity) runs parallel to an agenda of cutting emissions. You could think that austerity to pay for the bankers’ disaster is also required by the population at large to cut down carbon emissions.

But this doesn’t work. Despite the global recession, carbon emissions decreased by just 1.3% in 2009.

Recession might cause a small, temporary dip, but in fact the destruction of resources and curtailing of possible investment in a capitalist crisis is likely to make the long-term problem of climate change more intractable.

Shifting the burden of the economic crisis from the ruling class, from corporate and financial profit, onto public provision – i.e. on to the working class – will only crowd out the necessary solutions for climate change. Cuts which privatise the costs of education, which attack the poorest, and which direct resources towards the private provision of every kind of service, will undermine any move towards the sustainable transformation of economy and society.

The market privatises profits and nationalises costs, including damages to the environment. The poorer society becomes collectively, the more likely emissions are to rise: cheap and dirty will be the only realistic option for very many people. A minority might be able to afford an individualised ‘green’ alternative, but unless the infrastructure of the national economy is transformed, any reduction in emissions from such lifestyle options will be minimal.

A just solution to the financial crisis, in contrast, opens up the way for a serious approach to a sustainable transformation. The government is seeking massive savings in order that the institutions of the City might continue with business as usual, and minimal changes to their practice which led to the crisis in the first place. An alternative approach would de-financialise our economy, and turn to a radical Keynesian-style plan for the greening of cities, transport and power generation.

We need a plan based on a massive expansion of renewable infrastructure, a real decentralisation of power and wealth away from the City, and an emphasis on human need rather than corporate profit.

At the Coalition of Resistance founding conference on 27th November, speaker after speaker from the platform made the connection between an alternative policy to the cuts and the response we need to climate change. This was emphasised in the workshop where climate and anti-cuts campaigners came together with speakers from the Campaign against Climate Change ‘Million Climate Jobs’ campaign and from the Climate Alliance.

Our task now is to put this into practice, on the streets of London on 4th December and throughout the resistance to the cuts.

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National Climate March 2010 | December 4