Challenging the Market with Collective Solutions

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1696 ... October 29, 2018

Challenging the Market with Collective Solutions

Gordon Peters

For a short time very recently the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change hit the headlines and everyone -- not just those committed to reducing it -- was reminded of the accelerating costs to the planet and continuing livelihoods of carrying on the burning of fossil fuels. The report did not pull punches and said we had until 2030 to take steps well beyond any yet enshrined in policies to prevent the impending 3 degree rise this century, with the devastating impact on millions of lives, on cities, on species survival entailed.

Yet in our high consumption and celebrity news culture, that message again recedes and being able to do business... as usual, or even faster, whether with Brexit or without Brexit, colonises discussions of public interest. Climate change is important perhaps, we seem to be told, but getting markets and business opportunities in order has to come first. And the market can find further incentives to help tackle climate change.

But it is the very functioning of the market and the social and political relations constructed to maintain and enhance it which have driven fossil fuel extraction to such high levels, and just as importantly steered the ways in which technological invention and change to produce energy have developed. It took the Industrial Revolution and the drive for entrepreneurial profit, to give coal a central position in the economy. And the big acceleration in energy consumption from the 1970s following the oil shocks and crises of that decade has been driven by neoliberal and de-regulatory capitalism.

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