Another environmental conference dawns, and time for some more pretentious s***. In Cameron’s latest article, there is the usual buttering up as he attempts to pass the government off as the “greenest ever”. Anyone who has actually read behind the rhetorical soundbites that litter Cameron’s piece will know that this is far from true.
Now to regurgitate the specific part of Cameron’s article that causes the most squirming:
The second reason to take heart is that there is a compelling economic case to be made for fighting climate change that is barely out of the blocks yet. The green effort should not be downgraded or swept under the carpet because of spending cuts and austerity. On the contrary, both developed and developing countries have the potential to make massive gains from a green economy; the low carbon market is already worth up to £3.2 trillion and is forecast to grow by around 4% a year over the next five years.
I passionately believe that by recasting the argument for action on climate change away from the language of threats and punishments and into positive, profit-making terms, we can have a much wider impact. That’s why this government has set up the Capital Markets Climate Initiative – to help trigger a new wave of green investment in emerging economies and make the City of London the global capital of the fast-growing green investment sector.
The capitalist ‘logic’, the ‘logic’ that was clear in the Brundtland report and the related conference: the environment has to be couched in capitalist ‘friendly’ terms such as profit, growth and money, for it to be ‘meaningfully’ considered. Of course, to ask Cameron and co. to consider the influence that the likes of profit, growth and money have on the environment would be to challenge the very system they are so adamant in defending. Cameron is wrong when he talks about the need to “recast” climate change within a profit-making rhetorical slant, as the environment is already treated as a profit-orientated, exchange valued commodity ‘resource’ – Cameron’s ‘solution’ is precisely the problem!
We need the opposite to what Cameron preaches – we need to recast the environment in a truly sustainable logic – not the Brundtland’s classification of sustainability which equates to exploiting the South. The South, particularly representatives from Latin America, have been focal re the North’s exploitation of the South and poorer countries. I was only reading today about the effects neo-liberal policies have had on the South, as they take away the resources and land that people need to create a sustainable living, so they then have to acquire debts to live. It’s so wrong, and David Cameron just doesn’t get it. You can’t just have the odd discussion here and there, send a bit of aid and hope for the best. We need a real structural realignment and change in our economy, structure and culture.
This ‘logic’ is why we have meaningless reports that argue 100,000 public sector jobs were saved due to the welfare cuts – what utter rubbish. There is no causation there, it is a simple correlation. You could say that David Cameron was able to eat another 100,000 biscuits because of the welfare cuts (oh, wait – he might have cut that – but you get the point); it simply isn’t feasible to make these comparisons. Again, growth is cited as evidence that the economy is ‘recovering’. Again, there is a total neglect of how the capitalist ‘logic’ needs these constant booms and busts to happen; they will continue if we don’t have a restructuring and radical change in how we do things.
I have talked about this before. Karl Marx, whilst some dispute his environmental credentials, has important arguments that can help bring to light the real dangers that the growth production logic and focus on exchange values has on the environment. Other theorists have developed Marx’s work to illustrate in greater depth how the environment is just another commodity; as capitalists try to increase their profit they erode the very ‘resources’ they need to maintain their profit.
That’s why Cameron and others purport this argument, as they realise that the environmental dangers we have are so threatening to capitalism. They know that capitalism relies on the environment to function, but they are ignorant to wider problems that the profit motive causes to the environment, as people constantly consume and produce more and more ‘resources’, destroying natural habitats and ecosystems in the ‘need’ to create new ‘needs’ and new markets so that they keep afloat and try to beat the falling rate of profit.
Desperate stuff in desperate times, as ignorance prevails. The only thing that will change this is a structural and cultural radical change – so we challenge these damaging discourses from the ‘leaders’ who purport to understand the graveness of the environmental crisis we face today.