Our tasks

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5. Our tasks

5.1. Prepare the activists of the social movements so that they can aid the development of the consciousness of the masses and contribute to building a mass mobilization on climate. The fight for the climate requires in priority the construction of relationships of social forces. Faced with the urgency of the question and with the criminal policies of capitalist governments, we work in all countries for the building of a powerful unitary mass movement, coordinated on a world scale. This movement must be conceived of as a grid of social resistances existing on different terrains, with convergent coordinated actions and periodic pluralist demonstrations, on a common minimal platform. Its goal must be to force governments to aim for at least the most radical reductions in emissions put forward by the IPCC, respecting the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and of social and democratic rights as well as the right of everyone to a human existence worthy of the name. Mass mobilization in defence of the climate is a difficult task, due in particular to the double de-phasing, spatial and temporal, between the phenomenon and its effects. A broad campaign of information on global warming and its impacts is necessary. It must be aimed in particular at the activist nuclei of the various social movements and the political formations of the left, because these nuclei play a decisive role in establishing the concrete link between the global climate threat and particular social problems, and in deducing from that strategies that make it possible to combine social struggles and the fight for the environment.

5.2. Build a left current which links the fight for the climate to social justice. The change that is necessary cannot be obtained without the mobilization and the active participation of the exploited and oppressed who make up the vast majority of the population. Capitalist climate policy makes this participation impossible because it is unacceptable on the social level. This policy in fact implies the reinforcement of imperialist domination and of capitalist competition and violence; therefore of exploitation, oppression, social inequality, competition between workers, violation of rights and private appropriation of resources. In particular, this policy does not provide any answer to the major challenge represented by the jobs, the wages and the social gains of the millions of workers employed in the sectors that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. So it can only encounter legitimate social resistance. The big environmental NGOs try to radicalize the climatic objectives of governments while refusing to see that this radicalisation involves at the same time the accentuation of antisocial attacks. This is a dead end. We defend the need for a combined fight for the climate and for social justice. Within the broad movement, we work for the constitution of a left pole which links these two dimensions and which argues consistently against proposals based on market instruments, accumulation, neo-colonial domination and technological forward flight. This pole will seek to bring together elements of the trade-union, ecologist, global justice, feminist and third-worldist lefts, the “decreasing” left, the organizations of the radical left, critical scientists, etc.

5.3. Conduct the ideological fight against green neo-Malthusianism, in defence of the poor and of women’s rights. By its nature as a global problem and by the extent of the catastrophes which it is likely to cause, global warming favours the development of a whole series of ideological currents which, under cover of radical ecology, try to rehabilitate the theses of Malthus by packaging them in an apocalyptic discourse with strong religious accents. These currents find an echo at the highest level in certain sections of the ruling classes, where the disappearance of a few hundred million human beings is easier to imagine than the disappearance of capitalism. Because of this, they represent a potentially serious threat to the poor, particularly to women. The fight against these currents represents an important task, which our organizations must assume, as such and in liaison with the women’s movement. The population level is obviously one parameter of the evolution of the climate, but we have to categorically combat the false idea that population growth is a cause of climate change. The demographic transition is largely underway in the developing countries, and is progressing more quickly than had been envisaged. It is desirable that it continues, but that will be a result of social progress, the development of social security systems, the information that women dispose of and their right to control their own fertility (including the right to abortion in correct conditions). This is obviously a long-term policy. Short of resorting to barbaric methods, no policy of population control makes it possible to respond to climatic urgency.

5.4. Introduce the question of the climate into the platforms and the struggles of the social movements. In the perspective of a broad mobilization rooted in existing struggles, we act so that the defence of the climate becomes a major concern of the social movements and that it finds a concrete expression in their platforms of demands, on all terrains. For example:

  • the fight for peace: the production and the use of arms constitute an unacceptable folly in relation to climate change… which is itself a possible cause of additional conflicts;
  • the fight against poverty, for the right to development and social protection: the ability to adapt to climate change is directly proportional to the level of resources and development. Social inequality increases vulnerability and handicaps energy change;
  • the fight of women: adaptation to climate change reinforces the importance and the urgency of the specific demands of women for equal rights, for society to take responsibility for the care and protection of children, against the double working day, for the right to abortion and contraception;
  • the fight for employment: to radically reduce the consumption of energy, to reorganise the territory and the cities, to take care of biodiversity, to develop public transport and to substitute renewable sources for fossil fuels offers a gigantic reserve of quality employment;
  • the fight for access to land, water and natural resources and for an organic peasant agriculture: rural communities which practice a labour-intensive organic agriculture know how to increase the organic matter content of land of and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture;
  • the fight against globalization and the liberalization of agricultural markets: a cause of the ruin of rural populations, famine, rural exodus and/or the plundering of ecosystems, the liberalization of these markets is also a major source of emissions, direct (transport of products for export) and indirect;
  • the fight for the right of asylum: faced with the increase in the number of environmental, and in particular climatic, refugees, freedom of circulation is essential and constitutes the only response worthy of humanity;
  • the fight of indigenous communities for their rights: by their knowledge and their mode of exploitation of ecosystems, in particular forests, these communities are the most capable of preserving and developing carbon sinks;
  • the fight against the flexibility and the precarisation of work, against the lengthening of working time: work schedules that are cut and made flexible and capitalist campaigns in favour of the increased mobility of the labour force workers to use cars. “Just in time” production is a major source of emissions of greenhouse gases in the transport sector. The reduction of working time is a necessary condition for the development on a mass scale of alternative patterns of consumption and leisure;
  • the fight against privatizations, for a public sector of quality in the fields of transport, energy and water. Only a free public transport sector of quality can reconcile the right of everyone to mobility and the reduction of emissions. The liberalization of electrical production complicates the introduction into the network of intermittent renewable sources. Only a public enterprise not working for profit can take up the challenge that consists of suppressing within two or three decades the totality of emissions in the housing sector.

5.5. Outline the perspective of a global anticapitalist plan for social and ecological reconversion. In this framework put forth demands concretely linking the struggle for the climate and the struggle for meeting social needs, in particularly the right to work.
The leaderships of the big international trade-union confederations accompany capitalist climatic policies in exchange for the possibility of them negotiating certain of their modalities. This orientation is concretized in the proposal of a “Green Deal” based on the illusion that green technologies will make it possible to absorb unemployment and give the impulse to a new long wave of prosperity and capitalist expansion. The trade-union bureaucracies accept the requirements of productivism and capitalist profitability as well as the instruments of the dominant climate policy: government aid to “green” companies, “ecological taxation”, Clean Development Mechanism, the market in emission rights, even support for nuclear energy and biofuels. This policy is likely to make the trade union movement co-responsible for catastrophes. It sows division among workers on an international level, and between sectors within the different countries. To take up the challenge the trade union left must get away from a cramped vision centred on the redistribution of wealth, in order to contest the very conception of wealth and the way in which wealth is produced i.e. the very foundations of the mode of production. To the bureaucratic trade union leaderships’ policies we oppose the prospect of a global anti-capitalist plan for social and ecological reconstruction. This plan includes the defence and strengthening of the public sector (in particular the transport and energy sectors), the right to work, social and income protection as fundamental rights, collective reconversion under workers’ control of workers in useless of harmful production, a radical cut in working time with no loss of wages with a slowing of production rhythms and compensatory hiring, the creation of green jobs in public firms and free basic services. Based on this framework we will intervene in struggles, notably around industrial restructuring in ecologically non-sustainable sectors (such as the car industry) to propose concrete solutions to the infernal choice between continuing production and destroying jobs. We demand that governments create ecologically useful public jobs in sectors such as insulation of dwellings; public transport and the development of renewable energy sources independently of their costs.

5.6. The massive transfer of clean technologies towards the countries dominated by imperialism and the financing of adaptation to the effects of climate change in these countries require a sharing of assets and knowledge on a world scale, therefore substantial taxation of capitalist profits. The rescue of the climate requires a sharing of assets and knowledge on a world scale. It must thus be related to:

  • the cancellation of the debt of the third world and restitution to the people of the assets that the dictators of countries of the South have placed in Western banks;
  • lifting of bank secrecy, suppression of tax havens, taxing of inheritances, a tax on speculative movements, etc;
  • a substantial increase in the budgets of the imperialist countries that are allocated to government aid to development;
  • the creation, in addition to this aid, of a single world fund for the adaptation of the developing countries to the inevitable effects of climate change and for the transfer of clean technologies towards the public sector of these countries, without financial conditions;
  • the resources for this fund should come from taxing the profits and the excessive superprofits of the economic sectors most responsible for climate change (in particular the oil sector, coal, cars and electrical production);
  • suppression of the system of patents in health and in technologies that make it possible to produce essential consumer goods and services (transport, light industry, water and energy, communications) so that all the populations of the planet can have access to basic goods;
  • a system of financial compensation for the countries of the South which give up exploiting their fossil fuel resources.

5.7. The emissions of the countries dominated by imperialism will not be able to diminish by at least 30 per cent compared to projections unless the capitalist model of development is called into question. The contribution of the countries dominated by imperialism to the stabilization of the climate at the least dangerous level possible can only be achieved by an endogenous development, responding to the needs of the great mass of the population, therefore linked to land reform in favour of peasant agriculture and to a reorientation of production towards the domestic market. To reconcile the right to human development with the stabilization of the climate thus requires taking measures against the local ruling classes, who use the right to development as a pretext to try and refuse any obstacle to the burning of fossil fuels, who plunder natural resources, appropriate the forests for themselves, act as intermediaries for the sale of carbon credits, produce biofuels and export agricultural food products or industrial products at low prices for the markets of the developed countries. To prevent them being used to fuel this socially and ecologically harmful model, the funds and the technological means that are placed at the disposal of the countries of the South must be placed under the democratic control of the populations and their social movements.

5.8. Indigenous peoples by the defence of their way of life and their type of relationship with the environment, play a leading role in the struggle for forest protection, thus of the climate and the environment in general. The peoples of Latin America, in particular, have a conception of linked to their ancestral civilisation that is the polar opposite of the one promoted by bourgeois ideology. They do not see themselves as owners of their land; rather, they see themselves as belonging to the land – and this idea summarizes the central thrust of their philosophy, which is inspired by respect for the Earth. This is why they call their territory Mother Earth, or Pacha Mama. They nurture, maintain and cultivate another, community and solidarity-based, model of life, one which is deeply connected to nature. As such, the socio-political organization of aboriginal peoples on their territory does not limit itself to the borders imposed on them by the imperialists. The threats to their way of life, social structures, natural resources and peoples – as a result of the countless invasions of their territories – are an attack on their inalienable rights; and this prompts them to organize themselves and to resist the predations of multinationals carried out within the framework of the free trade agreements or the IIRSA (Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America). We must support their demands and oppose any occupation of their territories by extractive industries, and any building of hydroelectric stations, railways, roads and dams without the previous consent of these peoples. As the environmental question is clearly taking on a strategic role and place in the anticapitalist struggle, building an alliance between workers in countryside and towns and aboriginal peoples is one of the greatest challenges of our epoch. What is at stake in these struggles is also the preservation of the last tropical forests which play a major role in the climate system.

5.9. Oppose technological forward flight and incorporate all the great ecological challenges into a really sustainable perspective of development. The history of capitalism is littered with environmental crises that were “solved” without a global ecological vision, by the implementation of partial technological answers subordinated to the demands of profitability, whose harmful environmental effects appeared later. To solve the climate/energy crisis while following this same method of the sorcerer’s apprentice is likely to have even more dangerous consequences, in particular in three fields: the increased recourse to nuclear power and genetically modified organisms and the geological storage of CO2 in the framework of a new wave of exploitation of coal. To oppose these capitalist responses is one of the most important tasks. They should be denounced as symbols of the madness of unbridled capitalist growth, as the absurd attempt of the system to jump over its own head in order to maintain in spite of everything the accumulation that generates profit. In a more general way, the climatic challenge brings together all the environmental questions. The response must thus integrate all the great ecological challenges, in particular:

  • the defence of the tropical forest, respecting the rights of the indigenous communities which live off its resources (carbon sinks);
  • the defence of biodiversity;
  • rational and public management of water resources;
  • the fight against the poisoning of the biosphere by the several hundred thousand molecules resulting from petrochemicals, which do not exist in nature and thus in some cases cannot be broken up by its reducing agents;
  • the elimination of the gases that destroy stratospheric ozone and their replacement by compounds which do not have other dangerous ecological impacts;
  • the fight against atmospheric pollution and its consequences for human health (asthma, cardiovascular diseases,) and for the ecosystems (acidification, tropospheric ozone).

5.10. Denounce the gulf between the capitalist plans and the diagnosis of the situation by scientists. Establish links with critical scientists. Pose the questions of intellectual property rights and the social role of research. The claim by governments which are trying to make us believe that their capitalist and liberal climate policies are founded on “science” must be fought vigorously. To do this, we must denounce the gulf that separates the objectives of governments from the conclusions that the precaution principle makes it necessary to draw from the reports of the IPCC. This denunciation implies assimilating the essence of the scientific expertise while criticizing the dominant ideological and social presuppositions which are conveyed by a large majority of the experts. The left must establish relations with scientists, invite them to communicate their expertise to the social movements, challenge them on their general political positions, on the basis of their own scientific expertise, push them to speak out on the contradiction between the global rational solutions which the fight against global warming requires, on the one hand, and on the other hand the extreme compartmentalisation of science in the service of partial capitalist rationality. Considering the place occupied by scientific expertise in the development of policies, it is of considerable importance to establish relations between the social movements and critical and humanistic researchers. Within this framework, we develop a more general point of view on the role of science and research in the fight for the stabilization of the climate in a framework of social justice. We do not refuse technological solutions, nor the concepts of development and progress. We argue on the contrary for scientific research and technique to be freed from the influence of capital so that their potential can be placed massively and quickly at the service of progress in energy efficiency, rational management of resources and the sustainable development of renewable energy sources. We demand massive public refinancing of research, an end to the contracts which tie universities to industry and to finance capital, the democratic definition of research priorities in the context of the transition, in a framework of social justice, towards a society without fossil fuels.

5.11. Fight against the attempts to make individuals feel guilty, but assert the need for energy sobriety as far as socially possible. The discourses of governments aimed at making people feel guilty, which place responsibility for global warming on the behaviour of individuals, seek to conjure away social inequality, to hide the responsibility of capitalism, seek to divert attention from the profound structural changes that are necessary and pave the way for unjust measures such as the “carbon tax”. It is an illusion to believe that the climate could be saved by a movement of “cultural contagion” against overconsumption, whereas more than half of humanity lives in a situation of chronic underconsumption. But it is also an illusion to gamble on hypothetical revolutionary scientific breakthroughs in order not to put in question individual overconsumption and practices which result from it. Instead of counterposing actions in the sphere of consumption to structural changes in the sphere of production, the first must be conceived of as a means of making people aware of the need for the second. Alternative social practices, democratic campaigns and mobilizations, even those which only involve a minority, which contest productivism and consumerism, can also play a positive role in the formation of the collective consciousness that structural changes are necessary, in the sphere of production, and that these changes will be accompanied by a higher quality of life.

5.12. Develop a practice of popular aid in the event of a catastrophe. Climate change considerably increases the risks of catastrophes, affecting more particularly the workers and the poor, in particular in the developing countries. In the face of this threat, we must prepare to intervene with the social movements on two different terrains: the terrain of demands, consisting of placing states and governments before their responsibilities; and the terrain of direct, popular and interdependent aid, taken in charge by the local populations and their organizations with the assistance of networks of activists on a world level. The experience gained in natural disasters shows in fact that these popular aid initiatives are faster, more directly directed towards the poor and their real needs and are less expensive. Moreover, they favour the development of a different kind of social relations and of contestation of the established order.