Climate justice at the center of political debate: our lives depend on it

Climate justice at the center of political debate: our lives depend on it

The media coverage of the accusations and the Government’s resignation leads the debate, particularly after António Costa’s intervention on the 11th, towards a dichotomy between green capitalism and climate denialism. The first is dictated by false corporatist solutions and the profit agenda of large companies in the energy sector, while the second contrasts with denialist positions and that climate action “is expensive”, aligning the conservative agenda with the extreme right. However, what we know about climate science and the way the capitalist system works is that both competing agendas are blueprints for collapse.

A debate about whether we would rather save humanity or save capitalism is a dystopian debate, but that is not even the debate taking place in Portugal. At the moment, the polarization occurs between the two facets of fossil capitalism, one has been painted green and the other is that of pure and harsh inaction, known internationally as “burn, baby, burn”. This is the debate in which humanity has already lost. It is an unacceptable debate that we cannot swallow.

António Costa’s speech on the 11th, in which he appealed to investors not to give up on Portugal and to future governments not to give up on investments that are profitable for shareholders but useless in resolving the climate crisis, demonstrated what has been happening for a long time We know: this system has no plan other than collapse (but it wants to take advantage of European financing aimed at keeping large companies with liquidity and control over public infrastructure, whatever the cost).

Together, large companies and our governments in recent decades decided, in a premeditated and coordinated way, to carry out plans that condemn thousands of people to death, through the maintenance and repeated expansion of the carbon economy that has already placed us in a new climate . The decision to perpetuate this system and an energy model based on the profit of a parasitic minority is an act of war against humanity and against life.

The influence of the fossil industry and big companies in decisions about public investment, lobbying, “corruption”, “influence peddling” or by direct management through revolving doors are an unequivocal way of never leaving power out of the hands of the capitalist elite, whoever governs after elections. For decades, our country’s entire energy and mobility policy has been dictated by the economic interests of the administrations and shareholders of the large companies that caused the climate crisis and by the benefits that these companies offer to those who govern us.

We must never forget that António Mexia, before being president of EDP, was minister of Public Works, Transport and Communications and that, before that, he had been president of Galp and administrator of BES. We should also not forget Ferreira do Amaral, who negotiated the concession of the Vasco da Gama Bridge as minister and later became president of the same company, or Jorge Coelho, who became president of Mota-Engil after being minister of Public Works. There are hundreds, and they are in all governments. These are governments and companies, whatever your party card.

In this system, no future government will be able to do what is necessary to stop the acts of extreme violence that the climate crisis represents. No political party currently presents a plan compatible with a temperature increase below 2ºC of global warming. It’s impossible to talk about the future when we’re stuck in these terms.

Anyone who is concerned about the rise of the extreme right, the increase in social inequalities and the degradation of the living conditions of those who work cannot refuse to discuss how we are going to stop the existential emergency to which capitalism leads us. If you do, you accept that the choice is between the collapse agenda of green capitalism or the collapse agenda of the far right.

In a deteriorating world, capitalism goes into total self-defense – that is exactly what the rise of the extreme right and fascism means. Chega’s reaction to student occupations due to the climate is an indicator of this. Faced with any threat to its stability, capitalism will always use the violent guarantee of the extreme right, the system’s ultimate defense.

The climate justice movement refuses the dichotomy of catastrophe. We are not destined to have to accept the collapse via the green capitalism agenda of the centrão or the collapse via the denialism and authoritarianism of the extreme right. We need an agenda and program radically different from those mentioned, with proposals aligned with climate science and social justice, to wage the declared war on life and build true peace. This is the political program for which we have been taking to the streets – and will continue to take to the streets – and about which we want to open a broad and serious debate in society.

The current moment requires something that has no monetary value or exchange value: courage. We demand courage from ourselves to break the laws – not the biophysical laws of the planet – but those that govern capitalism. To maintain the climate stability on which the survival of humanity depends, it is now our duty and right to disobey many of the laws of this suicidal system and also have the courage to imagine another system of production and social organization.

* climate activists


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