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Climate Change



What's On







Issue #1886      September 18, 2019

Green imperialism or socialist solution to climate crisis

We can all see that the climate crisis is the inevitable conclusion of capitalism. Australia’s role in the climate crisis sits on top of two systems: colonialism and imperialism. Firstly, Australia engages in colonialism by mismanagement of stolen land – including land clearing, poor water management, irresponsible agricultural practices, and the mining industry. Secondly, Australia engages in imperialism by participating in overseas mining projects that exploit those environments and their local working class.

An Australian “Green New Deal” would not solve either of these problems. Why? Because the kind of “green” social reforms that are advocated for speak about a so-called diverse, “clean” energy paradise for urban centres, a treaty with Indigenous people, and “reforms” for the workplace. This sounds great on the surface, but what is the reality for rural Australia? Will Indigenous people get their land back? Who will own our labour and pocket the surplus? Under capitalism, these very radical reforms take the form of green imperialism in place of a socialist revolution.

What would it mean if Australia were to run on “clean” energy? Well, firstly, in order to make such clean energy you need metals such as aluminium and lithium. The largest producer of lithium is Australia, followed by several countries in the Global South. The primary source of aluminium is bauxite, which is most abundant in Africa, Oceania, and Latin America. The largest producer of bauxite is Australia, followed by several countries in the Global South. So, my question is: if Australia manages to achieve 100 percent green energy, who and who’s land suffers the damages?

The answer is rural Australia, that is Indigenous land, and the Global South. Mining at the price of Indigenous land is already at the forefront of news in the case of the Adani mine and the mining exploitation of West Papua. Indigenous land is also being sacrificed for lithium and bauxite mining in South America. Both the working class and Indigenous land will be exploited for the sake of idealised “green” living in the West. “Green” Australia will be the same.

Natural resources will be stolen to produce our solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries for energy storage and cheap labour will be used to drive down the price. The exploitation of these resources and the labour to produce them will be the means that justify the green end.

This will be happening while people in Australia’s urban centres will be patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Any environmental or social issues that arise from green energy will be hidden from these urban centres. Just like the pitfalls of Australia’s water management falls on rural towns, such as Dubbo in NSW, and Indigenous communities, such as the Barkindji people, while water treatment plants get a cashed-up.

The solution to the climate crisis in Australia is, therefore, a three-pronged solution. This solution is workers led and owned means of production influenced by decolonisation and anti-imperialism. We have to practise decolonisation and anti-imperialism as we move forward to a socialist state.

Decolonisation would include giving back traditional owners’ land. A good start would be returning all “Crown Land” (yay for the British monarchy!), which takes up 34 percent of Victorian land. It would also require farmers, scientists, and workers to work side by side with traditional owners in learning how to properly manage land with minimal impacts on the ecosystem. Clearing land, destroying floodplains, building dams, and growing almond and cotton is not viable in Australia’s climate or economy.

Anti-imperialism would mean trade unions and the working class standing in solidarity with the working class of the Global South against economic sanctions and embargoes that are used as a wedge to steal natural resources and labour. This can be done by standing in solidarity with anti-imperialist peace organisations and advocating for revolution over reform!

Next article – Socialism or perish

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