COP28: No solution while profit and capitalist competition reign

Callum Joyce 1 December 2023

The COP28 climate summit, an annual conference for countries to discuss the ongoing climate crisis and attempt to agree concrete steps that they can take to combat it, began on 30 November in Dubai.

The importance of the issue needs little reinforcement – this July saw the hottest temperatures ever recorded, and numerous floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events in past years have left thousands dead, injured, or displaced.

This year’s COP president, Sultan Al Jaber, while being the climate envoy for the United Arab Emirates (UAE, this year’s conference host) is also the chief executive of Adnoc – the UAE’s state-run oil and gas company.

It has been reported that al-Jaber has planned to use the conference to promote business deals between Adnoc and some of the countries in attendance, in the hope of reaching future agreements for further oil and gas extraction. Adnoc has also pledged to spend at least $150 billion over the next few years expanding its fossil fuel extraction capabilities.

The UAE is not the only country guilty of climate hypocrisy however. British Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently delayed UK plans to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles and the government continues to issue new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, all of this despite commitments made at previous COPs to take serious steps towards stopping fossil fuel emissions.

The majority of capitalist politicians are well aware of the need to take coordinated action against climate change, so why are they undermining their own efforts by allowing the further expansion of the fossil fuel industry?

Capitalism, despite the existence of world markets and international trade, remains based on competing nation states. If one capitalist government is too eager in restricting the activity of its domestic fossil fuel companies then this will hurt those companies’ profits and even drive them to relocate abroad, allowing rival foreign companies (and the states in which they are based) to gain an advantage.

For the sake of their own economic and political interests, capitalist governments are compelled to allow fossil fuel companies to expand and continue reaping huge profits, despite the environmental consequences.

Global cooperation is needed to stop the climate crisis, but this will not work if it is the half-hearted cooperation of competing capitalist states. To draw up a plan for production means taking the energy companies, other major industries and the banks out of the hands of the profiteers. Placed under democratic workers’ control, a plan could be developed to meet the needs of all while still protecting the environment. Only on this basis would the level of collaboration needed be possible.

Global leaders will meet in Dubai as war and economic crisis wrack the world – the inevitable consequences of profit-driven, competition-based capitalism. Socialist change is needed to solve climate crisis, join the Socialist Party to fight for it.


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