System Change not Climate Change – Who is afraid of Greta?

Alternative Socialiste, CWI Québec (sister orgaisation of the Socialist Party in Quebec) 

Is Greta Thunberg a young woman who is “mentally unstable” and spokesperson for “climate alarmism?”  This is how Quebec’s small elite describe the Swedish environmental activist, who will be the guest of honour at Montreal’s big climate march on September 27. Why do they attack her so aggressively?

No-one is surprised when such comments come from reactionary climate-change sceptics, such as Maxime Bernier, the leader of the right-wing People’s Party of Canada. He prefers to blame “mass immigration” for current problems. Bernier has landed in hot water several times because of the presence of white supremacist elements in his party. The xenophobic nationalists of the Journal de Montréal – led by Mathieu Bock-Côté and Richard Martineau –scold Thunberg, saying that her place “is not on the streets, but in school.”

Like the climate crisis, the elite’s hatred of Greta Thunberg is global. A French philosopher compared her to a “cyborg of the 3rd millennium,” while Australian and English climate-change sceptics explain her influence as due to her being a cult leader. Several months after the historic mobilizations of hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, these attacks illustrate the growing concern of at least a part of the capitalist political elites. These elites know very well the climate dangers that face humanity, but deliberately choose to do nothing.

Capitalism kills, and they know it

The capitalist system has been responsible for the production of 1,400 billion tonnes of CO2 since the beginning of industrialisation. As a result, biodiversity continues to decline. Mounting climate change causes increased heat waves, fires, floods, storms, hunger and disease and rising sea-levels. This already endangers peoples’ lives and will put billions  of lives in peril in the coming years. While large companies spend millions of dollars to present themselves as “green,” industrial coal consumption continues to grow. Oil consumption has just passed 100 million barrels a day for the first time!

For two centuries, doctors and lawyers have been alerting the ruling classes to the impact of the environment on people’s health. For two centuries, industrial lobbies have smothered them. Today in Québec, we see where Premier François Legault’s priorities lie when he decides to not even attend the September international climate change summit hosted by the United Nations in New York. Greta Thunberg will, however, be welcomed into the hall of the National Assembly following a request from Québec Solidaire, the left-wing party in the province.

No time to waste!

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that only 12 years remain to cary out a radical alternative to avoid the most serious effects of climate change.

Let us put an end to the burning of fossil fuels and sharply reduce the production of plastic in the coming years! We need food that does not ruin the planet or our health. This requires urgent and profound changes in energy, industrial, food and agricultural production, transport and housing.

People’s needs, not profits for the elite!

The independent group ‘Carbone 4’ argues that individual efforts are not enough, if we are to transform the ecology. Their team of experts explain that we must demand a radical transformation of the system. This transformation requires that three-quarters of the effort must be made by those countries and companies, which are mainly responsible for pollution.

We need a plan for massive public investment in renewable energy and public transit that is efficient and free of charge. This plan must also include the construction and renovation of affordable and environmentally friendly housing, public infrastructure and the establishment of public recycling plants. All this is achievable as long as the wealth we produce is not consumed by a small elite.

Let’s stop the top 100 polluters!

Over the past three decades, 100 companies have been responsible for more than 70% of industrial greenhouse emissions. These companies ignore environmental recommendations and legislation. And the political elites are their puppets.

We cannot control what we don’t own. Therefore, we must ensure that large companies in the energy industry, construction, transport, agro-industry and finance move from the private to the public sector.

An economy at our service!

With current resources, it is possible to free science from the limitations of capitalism. Instead of investing billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies, we should develop environmentally friendly technologies and materials. We defend the right of every person to a good job and a life free from poverty, oppression, devastation and destruction.

Large corporations and their colossal power must be taken into democratic, public control and managed by our class and communities. This will ensure that jobs are converted into socially-useful ones without loss of salary.

Planning, not chaos!

Elites are trying to counter-pose job creation to ecological practices. Green New Deal-type programs are moving in the right direction. However, we must go further, beyond the limits of the capitalist system.

Instead of the capitalist anarchy of production for profit, we must democratically plan how to use the planet’s resources sustainably in order to meet the real needs of the majority of the population.

Strike together!

We ordinary people suffer the most from climate change. On the other hand, it is our class that has the power to change history. We could stop the whole capitalist economy, showing our potential to take economic power in our hands.

If everyone was to go on strike together, we could stop what capitalists need most: the accumulation of profits. By linking the struggle initiated by youth with the struggles of the working class, we can organize powerful strikes for a real and fundamental change in society.

Beyond occasional strikes, it is essential to organize ourselves in action committees, whether in our unions, in our student associations, in Québec Solidaire or in our neighbourhoods. Let us make our activism locally effective through specific campaigns, for example for free public transport. Transformed into a mass movement, such campaigns can serve as a political lever against government policies.

For a socialist alternative!

Human beings are part of the global ecosystem, capitalism is not. Let us fight it and build a democratic socialist society based on the needs of the majority, not on the profits of a minority. This is no longer a slogan, but a vital necessity! Get involved with us to stop the destruction of the planet!

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