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Issue #1648      July 23, 2014


The wrong side of history

Following the abolition of the price on carbon Greens leader Christine Milne stated, “Tony Abbott and Clive Palmer have once again sided with the big end of town, and made sure it will be the rest of us that pay now and into the future.” That the reactionary climate denier Abbott and billionaire miner Palmer are on the same political page will not surprise anyone with even a cursory interest in political developments. As Ms Milne put it, “They are on the wrong side of history”.

Capitalism is an unsustainable system. The global environmental crisis has its origins in the heedless drive of capitalism for profits regardless of the social or environmental cost. The crisis is already causing immense human suffering and death, while diminishing resources threaten global peace and security. The response of governments in the developed capitalist countries to the climate crisis shows greater interest in safeguarding corporate profits than the environment.

Humanity faces the need to fundamentally change society, its purpose and motivation, advancing to a society that recognises humanity’s place in nature and lives with nature on the basis of sustainability. It means, in particular, the provision of renewable forms of energy, recognising that the provision of energy underlies almost all forms of production, transport and living. Ultimately, such a society is a socialist one.

In Australia the climate nightmare is real and happening now. Soil salination, desertification and deforestation, pollution of the air and freshwater systems, destruction of waterways and a major loss of bio-diversity began after the country’s occupation by Britain in 1788.

Conversion to a more sustainable economy will bring a healthier economy as well as a healthier environment. The changes necessary for more sustainable production require more workers, not fewer. The maximum participation of workers, unions and community is needed for this shift in industry and jobs to succeed. Decent work and job creation are central to sustainable development because workers and workplaces are at the centre of production and consumption in society and have a key place in transforming production at all levels.

To alleviate some of the worst features of the environmental crisis, the CPA advocates:

  • Developing a national energy plan, with legislated timetables and targets, for transition to an ecologically sustainable energy system
  • Nationalisation of Australia’s electricity generation, distribution and supply infrastructure
  • Massively investing in research and development of alternative renewable energy sources under public ownership. Transfer of government subsidies from fossil and nuclear fuel sectors to energy efficiency and renewable energy and conversion programs
  • Making energy efficiency and conservation key determinants of urban planning and central to government economic and industry policy
  • Legislation and enforcement for efficiency and safety standards requiring every enterprise to adopt energy conservation measures and recycling, energy rating labelling of all residential and commercial buildings, motor vehicles, electrical appliances and power generating machinery, chemical processes including transportation, etc.
  • The provision of expanded public transport infrastructure, more frequent and more reliable public transport services that are publicly owned and operated, and new services to outer suburbs
  • Extensive provisions of infrastructure to be developed for cyclists
  • Re-opening country and regional rail lines for freight and passenger service under public control
  • Restoration of Australia’s water systems and provision of adequate safe drinking water for communities through coordinated national planning
  • Phase out unsustainable water-hungry industries such as cotton and rice-growing. No provision of free potable water for mining processes
  • Planning to be undertaken so that Australia takes responsibility and provides for environmental refugees driven from their homes/lands by the effects of climate change or other environmental catastrophes
  • Close all uranium mines in Australia and cancel contracts for the export of uranium and oppose the establishment of nuclear waste dumps in Australia
  • Transfer appropriate technologies to the people of developing and underdeveloped economies to achieve global equity of energy and resource use, and quality of life in the course of achieving global sustainability.

Next article – Call for confronting the heinous crimes committed against our people in Mosul

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