TO THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT

 

Liberty, equality, humanity, ecology and feminism (I)

Will the Copenhagen Conference be fruitful if our government refuses the fact that the present ecological crisis is a by-product of capitalism ?

We are living in exceptional times ; humanity is at risk of extinction. You, together with the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Trade will represent our people in Copenhagen at this defining moment in the history of humanity.

The Kyoto Protocol which intended to make developed countries reduce their carbon emission by at least 5% from 1990 level, expires in 2012. The neo-liberal market based framework of the Kyoto Protocol together with the non adherence of some of the most polluting countries in the world, limited its effectiveness. It is now clear that the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol will not be met in 2012. From this week to the 18th Dec 2009, you will be in the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Summit to try once again to negotiate a Post-Kyoto international treaty. However, will the Copenhagen Conference be fruitful if the Mauritian government refuses the fact that the present ecological crisis is a by-product of capitalism and its mode of production and consumption ? After the lost decade of the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, can humanity afford another lost decade due to neo-liberal madness ?

Will we be let down by our leaders ?

Will our government pay attention to the world's climate justice movements, in which Rezistans ek Alternativ is part of, which will also be holding meetings and mobilisations of hopes in Copenhagen and in many cities across the world ? Will governments pay attention to indigenous people, peasants, the young, old, workers and citizens who will face the lines of riot cops and the tear gas in Copenhagen ?

Erroneous belief

Hon. Minister, the present ecological crisis stems from a two fold erroneous belief. First, is the belief that economic and social systems can exist independently of the eco-system and can exploit resources in an infinite way. This belief also assumed that the natural deficiencies can be fully addressed through successive so called "innovations", manipulations and transformation to create a "second nature". The second false belief originates from the essence of capitalism, assuming that the economy and those controlling the wealth and means of production can indefinitely, in the name of profit and "progress", appropriate and transform societies and nature, as an unlimited field for capital expansion.

The growth-oriented capitalist system with an insatiable need to maximize profit has contributed massively to deforestation, depletion of the ozone layer through the production of hazardous chemicals, destruction of coral reefs via over-exploitation and irrefutably global warming through the extensive use of fossil fuel

The past 20 years of neo-liberal globalisation has not only been responsible for social and economic crisis but has also been the source of further environment degradation. By eliminating all the limits to markets and infinite growth, globalisation paradoxically has revealed the ecological limits of the world.

You are surely aware, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that environment degradation is an anthropogenic process, accelerated since the Industrial Revolution. Yet, global warming is not a result of mere human activity but of human activity within a specific economic and social system : capitalism.

Earth, the home of billions of species, since its creation, comprises carbon dioxide and water vapour, two inherent greenhouse gases (GHG). Global warming is a natural process. Yet, the reckless increase of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is accelerating it. Since the global network of thermometer in 1850, the average temperature of the earth has risen by 1.3°F. The subsequent gradual melting of Artic permafrost could trigger unstopped climate change effects as it releases methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide itself (21GWP). Indeed, with deforestation the amount of carbon dioxide absorbs by trees is also lowered.

The world has known previous ecological crisis in terms of depletion of resources. In primitive societies, human beings looted natural resources as a response to food shortages caused by droughts, floods and wars. Contrarily, in capitalist societies, the earth's finite natural resources are being exploited at higher rate to sustain overproduction and over consumption. While energy is essential for capitalist accumulation, the extensive exploitation of fossil fuel has been the main cause of global warming. Renewable energy technologies such as thermal solar systems were developed by the end of the 19th century, yet, capitalist prefer to sustain its mode of production through the burning of oil and coal. In addition to its cheap price, monopoly can be achieved as fossil fuel reserves can be owned. Until recently, capitalists have little incentive to exploit green energy sources as they were not profitable.

As the repercussion of environment deterioration on human and wildlife becomes increasingly serious, global consciousness arises. Scientists predict that with this rate of global warming, the occurrence of stronger cyclone will be higher with severe droughts on one side of the globe and flood on the other side. Indeed, the poorest people from Africa, Asia and Latin America will be among the first to pay for the pollution-based capitalist mode of production. The people of small island countries like Mauritius will also bear a huge burden of climate change

Failed Kyoto Protocol

In an attempt to limit climate change, 187 countries, including Mauritius, signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. If an Internationally Binding Treaty was a major positive step, yet, instead of binding countries into reducing their GHG emission, this international agreement has made provisions for carbon trading emissions which allows fake claims of net emissions cut. This market-oriented approach has reduced carbon dioxide gas into a commodity. Whilst, carbon trade emission encourages imperialism in the South, the amount of carbon dumped globally into the atmosphere is still rising. The Kyoto Protocol has resulted in a net increase in emissions ! It is now clear that emissions trading doesn't work and won't get us to the 350 part per millions (ppm), that scientists and the people of the planet are demanding.

Green "mascarade" capitalism

Capitalists who are responsible for ecological crisis, is now investing in green technologies to fight global warming. Peculiarly, they intend to repair the world's ecological damage through "sustainable development" whilst sustaining their current market mechanism. They are now trying to build a huge carbon emissions financial market and bring any attempts to the carbon emissions reduction under the ruthless rule of speculations and greeds that have turned the global economy into havoc last year. This is the very essence of green capitalism. Surplus profit is an inherent feature of capitalism, whether gray or green. Indeed, infinite economic expansion, what colour it might be, is incompatible with finite and fragile ecosystems.

In parallel, ever since oil reserves have started to deplete and renewable energy technologies have become more profitable, capitalist finds the need to invest in green energy, though coal, the main contributor of global warming, remains its prime attraction as a result of its cheap price. Green capitalism is not the way forward, it can at best only be viewed a green "mascarade" of the system that have generated the worst crisis than human kind has ever faced !

Kashmira Banee & Ashok Subron

Rezistans ek Alternativ

(to be continued)

Le Mauricien 15 December 2009

 

 

TO THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT

 

Liberty, equality, humanity, ecology and feminism (II)

What should our governments now strive for at Copenhagen ?

Our point of departure should remain scientific findings, that have concluded it is necessary to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by the year 2020 and a minimum 90 percent or as close to zero emissions as possible to year 2050 in order to have the possibility of limiting temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5-2ºC. Another central point of departure is the need to immediately aid all those worst affected by weather catastrophes and food crisis.

The world wide climate justice and eco-socialist movement, in which Rezistans ek Alternativ is part of, believe that a radical transformation of the economic system based on social justice and ecological balance, is necessary to stop and reverse the disastrous process of global warming.

There should be a limit on economic growth and a revolution that shift from a quantitative economic principle to a qualitative one. Production should be based on used-value, that is, actual consumption and not on exchange value which is, surplus profit making. These aims require both democratic decision-making which enable society to collectively define its goals of investment and production, and a retreat of the means of production from capitalism to eco-socialism. Only such transformation can offer a longer-term perspective for the balance and sustainability of our social and natural systems.

Hon Minister, the urgency of the situation makes it imperative for our government to defend an alternative vision of society. This alternative vision to transform human societies in the face of the ecological crisis rests on 6, simple but fundamental, principles.

leaving fossil fuels in the ground ;

reasserting peoples' and community/social control over production ;

relocalising food production ;

massively reducing overconsumption, particularly in the North and the elites in the South ;

respecting indigenous and forest peoples' rights ; and

recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the South and making reparations.

In line with the above alternative vision of human society our government should in Copenhagen :

defend the principle of a legally binding international treaty that imposes a reduction on carbon emissions as from the 2009 Copenhagen summit on all major polluters on earth.

should defend and not compromise on the target of 350 ppm and the benchmark of not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

reject all market based mechanism, to address, monitor and finance carbon emissions reduction. The further development of the obscene trade with emission rights ("cap and trade") is a false solution as the wretched experiences with the ETS (European Emissions Trading Scheme) have demonstrated. This 'cap and trade'technique is based on a pro-big business trade that allows the atmosphere to be privatised through turning rights to pollute it into a commodity (carbon credits), which can be bought and sold between companies and financial traders. It is as hypocritical as the old letters of indulgence where sinners could buy themselves free of sin ! Instead of market based mechanism, our government should favor Climate Justice Carbon tax, to reduce carbon emissions as well as to finance public investment in clean renewable solar energies, collective free transport and social justice.

reject the monitoring of carbon emission financing by institutions such as the WB and IMF or WTO.. Instead government should favor all financial monitoring remains within the framework of United Nations.

Dubious Mauritian

Government stands ?

Will Mauritius stand firm with the AOASIS target on carbon emission reduction and temperature rise i. e. long-term stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at well below 350ppm CO2-equivalent levels ; ii. global average surface temperature increases to be limited to well below 1.5° above pre-industrial levels ; global greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2015 and decline thereafter ; reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions by more than 85% below 1990 ? Or will Mauritius bend in face of arms twisting and lobbies from major capitalist countries and local elites who have vested interest in carbon credits ?

Hon Minister, we are very concerned that our country through our Prime Minister endorsed the recent Commonwealth Declaration, which opens the door for a binding treaty not to be signed in Copenhagen, thus further delay global actions on global warming. Secondly, we are worried that Mauritius has endorsed this Commonwealth Declaration where the target 'of temperature increases to be limited to well below 1.5° above pre-industrial levels'has been dropped. Is it because Mauritius as Small Island Countries have got the assurance that AOSIS will get at least 10% of the climate financing ?

We are also concerned that Mauritius has not expressed any opposition in international fora to the principle of market based mechanism and 'carbon financial market'to addressed the climate crisis. Equally worrying is the fact that Mauritius has not supported the stand taken by Tuvalu State, in the Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS), Declaration On Climate Change of September 2009, in relation to the reference to market-based solutions on REDD Plus.

While Mauritius and many small islands and developing countries will be rightly demanding climate funds, the question that remains are : in which fields and to whom theses carbon reduction resources will be channeled ? Will be it served as a green 'mascarade' to increase energy production through coal, as the sugar oligarchy is presently doing with its 'co-generated coal-bagasse power plants ? Will it be channeled to supposedly 'waste to energy projects'which in reality is coal based ? Will it be channeled towards greedy private sectors who are impatiently awaiting coming carbon trading emissions and credits ? Or will the climate fund be used for public investment through the CEB in massive clean and renewable energy and in free, public and collective means of transport for example ? Will climate fund be used to support green and bio-ecological agriculture, fishing under the control of small farmers and fisher folks ? These are vital questions that we need to debate once an internationally binding treaty and a mode of financing is agreed in Copenhagen.

Hon. Minister, the fate of present and future generations of Mauritius lies in the stand that you will defend in Copenhagen. In 50 years and 100 years, people of this country will for sure remember whatever stand you have chosen to defend in Copenhagen. The future of our Islands and our peoples, as well as the planet and humanity is in your hands.

We sincerely hope you will pay attention to the appeal, analysis and alternative vision of this Rezistans ek Alternativ paper.

Kashmira Banee & Ashok Subron

Rezistans ek Alternativ

Le Mauricien 19 décembre 2009