A Fossil Fuel Exit Program

Ekeland, Anders
Date Written:  2014-05-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2014
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20410

Ekeland analyzes climate activist Hansen's climate change exit strategy and why it has not been supported or pursued by political and environmental groups.



From the early '90s the left's primary objective has been to gain support for the fact that there is man-made climate change, that "something must be done," and that emission trading is clearly no solution. In fact emission trading was constructed to maintain business as usual, to avoid the social conflict that would and will arise from a transition from fossil energy toward a society based on renewables.

The overriding objective of the environmental movement and the hard left was to convince ourselves and the public that climate change was human-caused ("anthropogenic"), and to put popular pressure on the international climate negotiations to force the ruling elites to at least take some minimal action for reduction of the emissions.

But as the stalemate of the international climate negotiations became clear, as the IPCC delivered more and more alarming reports, it was high time for the left to come forward with its own solutions, its own exit strategy.

The disappointment after the very high expectations of the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009 marked a turning point. The futility of the negotiations became more and more obvious for each subsequent meeting. That the NGOs, unions and social movement forces walked out of the recent Warsaw meeting is a clear sign that the elites' mechanism for emission reductions has lost legitimacy.

This means that a political space has opened for the left. But while there are many excellent analyzes of the relationship between Marx(ism) and ecology, the impossibility of green capitalism and the total failure of emission trading schemes, there is no common strategic campaign to mobilize people for an exit from fossil fuel society.

The fundamental reason is that any set of policies that would reduce the use of fossil fuels significantly will lead to a general price rise -- in real terms -- that will hit the working class. The poorer one is, the harder the price rise hits. The left has a long tradition of quite correctly fighting against indirect, regressive and socially unjust taxes.

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