Earth Day 2021: Don’t Play Capitalism’s Game

On Earth Day 2021, the SSP makes clear that the Earth’s plentiful resources must be used sustainably for the benefit of everyone, not just the profit of the few.

By Graeme Cullen, SSP Climate Change Action Group

The climate emergency is a class crisis.

We cannot ask workers to pay for this crisis imposed on them. We cannot fall victim to false rhetoric and meaningless targets. Workers must act in their collective interest to improve their lives and build a sustainable system.

We cannot play capitalism’s game – workers must make the next move.

Earth Day 2021 is an opportunity to make clear: we must act now, here in Scotland, and confront destructive capitalism.

When COP26 arrives in Glasgow later this year, Holyrood, Westminster, and big business will all project an image of Scotland as a progressive world leader in tackling the climate crisis. The truth is that Scotland could do, and must do, so much more to create a sustainable society.

Scotland is a resource and labour-rich country, with the means to meet our energy, housing, infrastructure, and nutritional needs in a sustainable and democratic manner that raises communities out of poverty. But thousands of working-class people in Scotland experience food and fuel poverty on a daily basis.

These problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic crisis – itself the result of unsustainable land use and agricultural practices in the global economy.

The system of private land use in Scotland has produced a poor ecological state for our most important resource; land that could produce an abundance of low-cost food, but doesn’t.

To restore the land we live on, we must bring Scotland’s vast rural estates and corporate farms into public ownership and put to use for the benefit for everybody.

We must build sustainable, durable, suitable housing for everyone, and deliver a free public transport infrastructure that reduces Scotland’s overreliance on private vehicles – an ever-growing source of emissions in Scotland.

There is clearly an enormous amount work to be done building a Scotland fit for the 21st century – but despite all the work that we need to do, there are no secure jobs for millions of people in Scotland.

While continuing to drill for oil in the North Sea, industrial sites at BiFab are allowed to close as Scotland imports turbine parts from Indonesia. Workers continue to face the brutal effects of domestic deindustrialisation, as jobs that could form the new industrial base of Scotland are lost.

Instead, we must guarantee a transition for skilled workers into domestic manufacturing of modern, sustainable infrastructure – and create new jobs that meet our needs, and that end poverty in Scotland.

Scotland imports goods that could be produced locally, and exports emissions to wherever labour is cheapest. This must change.

The SSP knows that solutions to climate change must benefit the working-class majority. That is how the environmental movement will win mass support and the transformative change necessary to live sustainably. We cannot rely on capitalist solutions that punish workers for environmental degradation caused by corporations.

We cannot win by playing capitalism’s game – the working-class must make the winning move.

Our primary policies are:

  • Free Public Transport – To give people a sustainable and affordable option to their isolating cars.
  • Democratic Public Ownership of the energy industry – to ensure a truly just transition to renewable energy; ending fuel poverty, providing hundred-thousand green jobs, and ensuring that no one is left behind.
  • Democratic Community and Public Ownership of Scotland’s estates and corporate farms – to produce food sustainably whilst ending food poverty, and ecologically restore our environment to offset emissions while creating green jobs.

These are realistic and immediately implementable examples of democratic public ownership, championed by the SSP, which would put people and planet before profit.

The only solutions to the climate crisis are those which improve life quality for all and create a sustainable society through democratic empowerment.