A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ICC) emphasized the seriousness of the climate crisis, calling for “immediate, rapid and large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.” You need to restrict access. C
The report renewed calls Urgent action And it ends with the “defamation” of politicians. They echo long-held arguments that there is no “political will” to deal with climate change.
The world never wants to reduce or eliminate emissions. But many of the problems that prevent many effective climate change are political, but not really because they can’t do anything about politicians. In the last two decades, there has been a lot of climate change. So far, however, it has largely failed.
Climate action for whom?
Different climate measures have different costs and benefits for different people. As a result, choices about what course of action to follow are deeply ingrained in power relationships.
We live in a world of great wealth and power, many of which are rooted in colonial and exploitative history. These differences often allow powerful companies in areas such as finance and energy to determine the direction of climate change. This makes it very difficult to pursue measures that could jeopardize their interests, but significantly reduce emissions – such as fossil fuels.
Instead, we have a number of steps that can be taken to address climate change, which is based on making emissions less profitable. But the fastest ways to reduce emissions are not always the most profitable. And for some, the benefits may be detrimental to low-income people and communities.
One example is carbon credits – licenses for companies and governments to meet emissions targets and compensate for pollution elsewhere, especially in developing countries by supporting emissions projects. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is designed to help reduce emissions in this way. According to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, CDM had to mobilize investment to install renewable energy, renovate factories and renovate housing.
When a large market for carbon offset was developed, emissions could not be significantly reduced. The main reason for this was the reliance on for-profit private investors. Most of the projects funded by CDM may be profitable – the distribution of CDM credits reflects the pattern of private foreign investment in developing countries with the largest number of financing projects in China and India.
There is only a limited range of emission reduction projects that can be self-funded or cost-effective for existing businesses. But even these efforts have been hampered by pressure from banks and financial institutions to create secondary markets for carbon credits. This is supposed to create more accurate prices, but instead it makes it harder to predict how much carbon credit they have earned, making them more flexible by blocking new projects.
Carbon trading also enjoys the interests of private investors rather than communities close to CDM-supported projects. CEDM-funded wind tunnels in southern Mexico, for example, have displaced indigenous communities by privatizing common land.
Very unsustainable force
Another climate change initiative is still encouraging the adoption of new technologies at low emissions. Governments in developed countries have subsidized the purchase of electric cars, or increased funding for clean energy technology research and development.
It is challenging to think that public and private investment in renewable energy will enable governments, businesses and civil society to come together to fight climate change. But there are still significant obstacles. For one, many major energy companies, such as LLL and British Petroleum, invest in oil and gas. As long as fossil fuels are profitable, these companies will resist their efforts to stop selling them.
Above all, switching to full renewable energy sources requires the supply of batteries, electrical wires, and other components to solar panels and wind turbines. Recent estimates suggest that meeting the current global demand for energy with 100% renewable energy will take more cobalt, lithium, and nickel than is known on Earth.
Fighting for these minerals is already raging. The demand for batteries in telephones, laptops and electric cars has led to the urgency of setting up industrial mines in southeastern Congo, where most of the world’s famous cattle are.
Foreign-owned industries employ very few Congolese workers, and most of the profits are stored abroad. Some communities have been excluded from mining. Cobalt has become a major means of subsistence in the local way of life, with small mines, often operating without a license or formal mining rights and using their own equipment.
Coal mining in Morocco. Sunut Media / Shutterstock
But according to media and activist reports, child labor in these mines is exploited. Meanwhile, coal explosions have been linked to landslides, river pollution and deforestation, and locals have been exposed to toxic mineral dust in the air and in food and drinking water.
Some companies, including car and electronics manufacturers, as well as financial institutions involved in the cobalt business, have tried to minimize the negative impact of mining. Most of these programs focus on combating child labor by ensuring that cobalt is extracted from industrial minerals rather than the mines that are most problematic. However, the replacement of small mines with industry standards does not necessarily benefit mining communities.
Climate action has so far failed to meet the needs of powerful businesses and governments, at the expense of vulnerable people and places that have contributed so little to the climate crisis. If we want results, we must go beyond asking for action and instead focus on changing the way the world economy is organized and run.