“Bullshit!” at Madrid COP25 climate conference

Socialist Action’s 2020 candidate for the U.S. presidency

Some 500,000 climate activists mobilized in Madrid by a broad array of NGO’s around the world demanded that the United Nations-sponsored COP 25 (Conference of Parties) agree on a series of critical measures to halt the world’s march to planet catastrophe. After eleven days of “negotiations” ending on December 15 the result was zero. No significant agreements on any issue emerged from this 25th annual UN climate conference where representatives from 200 capitalist countries and fossil fuel energy lobbyists from the world’s leading polluters once again ensured that whatever “accords” were reached were worthless in terms of preventing the near-term projected deadly increase of 1.5 – 2.0 degrees celsius in the earth’s temperature.  The December 16 New York Times front-page headline bluntly read, “Climate Talks End With U.S. Ceding Nothing.” Lip service verbiage aside, not a single one of the world’s leading powers could agree on any concrete measures to fundamentally reign in their dependence on fossil fuels and the monopoly super profits derived from their continued and expanded use.

The COP25 demand from representatives of the poorest nations on earth, including those threatened with inundation from sea water and massive ocean pollution, for compensation and aid was similarly met with contempt, if not counter demands for guarantees that the world’s greatest polluters could not be held liable in future law suits! 

“Bullshit!” was the term applied in 2015 to the non-binding COP21 Paris Accords by leading climate theoretician James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and more recently head of Columbia University’s Earth Institute Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. The same Bullshit! definition was applied by leading climate experts around the world regarding the final proclamation drafted at COP25. Indeed, some 300 participant activists entered the Madrid conference hall and demonstratively deposited sacks of manure to illustrate their contempt for the proceedings.

What most disturbed these climate activists was the near total indifference of the world’s great economic powers. The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw entirely later next year from the UN COP process was matched in contempt for the earth’s future by a loophole-filled proclamation of the European Union. China and Russia too joined those who opposed any serious restrictions on the world’s dependence on fossil fuel. Trump’s representatives attended with the sole objective of insuring that no limits were placed on U.S. corporations’ optimizing profits. The present U.S. election cycle circus notwithstanding, the Democrats’ opposition to any serious challenge to the corporate polluters and to the associated and never-ending U.S. oil wars matched Trump’s policies to a T.

The leading spokespersons from the NGO’s could only denounce the COP25 results while expressing hope for the future election of more climate friendly officials and governments that they might influence at next year’s Glasgow COP26 conference.

Greta Thunberg

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg’s stinging indictment of the world’s politicians and all governments’ deadly blindness to the consequences of ignoring an impending climate Armageddon and her leading role in rousing some 7.6 million worldwide in the recent worldwide Student Climate Strike notwithstanding, the future success of any serious fight against global warming must in time take on an independent working class character directly in opposition to the capitalist system and all its advocates. The critical demand, “System Change Not Climate Change!” must find expression among the only forces in society capable of challenging capitalism’s march to doomsday. Corporate funded NGO’s, usually beholden to their sponsors, are simply incapable of exercising the class power required to win this historic battle.

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[Editor’s note: We reprint this article by the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM). In 1989, the Bastille Appeal was launched, inviting popular movements throughout the world to unite in demanding the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the debt of the so-called developing countries. This crushing debt, along with neo-liberal macro-economic reforms imposed on the global South, has led to an explosion of worldwide inequality, mass poverty, flagrant injustice and the destruction of the environment.


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