With his party sinking in the polls, Rishi Sunak is looking to whip up a climate culture war. Workers must have no trust in either the Tories and their cynical claims, nor the liberals and their impotent demands. We must fight for revolution.
Yesterday, in a desperate effort to distract from the crumbling state of British capitalism, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that his government will be backtracking on a number of key green targets.
Included in this latest Tory U-turn are delays to a ban on new diesel and petrol cars, and a postponement of the deadline for phasing out gas and oil boilers.
Climate campaigners have denounced this decision, highlighting that the UK is now even less likely to reach its net-zero emissions commitments.
This latest Tory move comes on the back of the party’s narrow victory in the Uxbridge by-election. Many bourgeois commentators have attributed Labour’s recent defeat in Boris’ old constituency to local opposition to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s expansion of the ULEZ clean-air scheme.
Subsequently, calls have grown louder from the Tories and their rabid media mouthpieces for the PM to double down on this issue, turning the environment into the government’s latest culture war, in the hope of clawing back some public support.
There is no doubt that this is a conscious electoral strategy on the part of Sunak and his ministers; another cynical attempt to polarise the working class and divert attention away from the polycrisis that is engulfing Downing Street.
After all, the Tory leader’s green retreat was not limited to scaling back ambitions regarding electric vehicles and heat pumps. Sunak also whipped up hysteria by asserting that he would scrap a range of purely hypothetical measures relating to flying, food, and recycling. Such rhetoric was clearly aimed at the frothing ranks of the Conservative Party.
At the same time, the British Prime Minister – along with other reactionary figures across the world – is demagogically tapping into a genuine mood of anger amongst ordinary people against the ‘green’ policies being pursued and enacted by the liberal establishment.
The billionaire elites are getting richer and richer. Fossil fuel monopolies are registering record profits. Both US President Joe Biden and Labour leader ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer, meanwhile, are greenwashing their economic programmes, involving huge state handouts to big business.
Yet it is the working class that is bearing all the burden of the climate crisis: not only in terms of its disastrous effects, but also in relation to the costs of mitigation and adaptation.
No wonder workers are disillusioned with the approach being taken by capitalist governments when it comes to tackling climate change and reducing emissions.
From increasing energy bills and transport prices; to the eye-watering costs of insulating homes and installing new heating systems; to all manner of regressive taxes and levies: while working families foot the bill, corporate polluters are getting off scot free.
To call a spade a shovel: this is nothing but austerity, painted in green colours by the capitalists and their political representatives.
Hypocrisy and inequality
We have been here before – and not so long ago.
In the midst of the pandemic, it was workers and the poor who suffered the most – both from the disease itself, and from the impacts of lockdowns.
And while the working class have been paying the price for the corona crash in terms of cuts and inflation, private profiteers, parasites, and pharmaceutical firms have been laughing all the way to the bank.
And now, with the working class once again being made to pay for capitalism’s crises, the same process is playing out in relation to the climate catastrophe.
Splits and divisions
Many polluting bosses have welcomed the Tories’ backsliding regarding the environment. All other things being equal, for them, looser regulations means fewer costs and greater profits.
Another wing of the capitalist class, however, has come out against Sunak’s shift. This latest Tory policy change only adds to the uncertainty facing British businesses, coming on top of the instability of Brexit, rising interest rates, and industrial unrest.
This split amongst the capitalists is reflected in divisions within the Tory Party. The most reactionary layers are enthusiastically looking to wage a climate culture war. More ‘serious’ Conservative figures (and less serious ones, such as Boris Johnson), meanwhile, are opportunistically lending their support to liberal environmental groups and their spokespersons.
The Prime Minister’s climate climbdown, therefore, will not bring any respite or reprieve for him and his party. Rather than uniting the Tories and boosting their electoral chances, this myopic move, as with all the government’s other culture-war battles, will only backfire and add to their headaches.
Workers and youth must trust only in their own strength.
Rishi Sunak and the Tories clearly don’t give a damn about the cost-of-living crisis bearing down on the working class. Coming from a party that has spent the last decade-or-more pursuing a ruthless austerity agenda, criticism of costly environmental measures is nothing but a case of crocodile tears.
On the other side, we must have no faith in the liberal establishment and their representatives in the Labour leadership. Their ‘green’ capitalist policies offer no solution to climate chaos. Even worse, by insisting that workers shoulder all the costs, they only breed distrust and division within the working class, and thus throw the movement backwards.
Only a programme of class-based demands can solve the climate crisis.
This means fighting for nationalisation, workers’ control, and socialist planning: of the big car manufacturers, to provide a public fleet of electric vehicles; of transport networks, to ensure quality, affordable services for all; and of the construction and engineering industries, to roll out a mass programme of insulation and heat pump installations across millions of homes.
Instead of ordinary people bearing the costs of green measures, we must expropriate the banks and monopolies, the major polluters, and the wealth of the super-rich.
Just 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of global emissions. The biggest fat-cats and their investments belch out a million times more greenhouse gases than the average person. And collectively, the world’s 2,640 billionaires are ‘worth’ over $12 trillion: enough to make a sizable dent in the fight against climate change.
We therefore say: make the bosses pay for this crisis – a crisis of their making! The capitalists are responsible for this mess. And it is they who should shoulder the costs for cleaning it up.
Their system – the insatiable profit system – is destroying the Earth. Capitalism is killing the planet. We need a revolution.