Below is the text of the speech given by Paul Atkin, a retired teacher, National Education Union activist and climate campaigner, to the event we recently co-organised at the Marx Memorial Library in London, Socialist solutions to the climate crisis.
Paul gives an overview of China’s impressive efforts towards preventing climate breakdown and protecting biodiversity. For example, while China is still quite dependent on coal, the proportion of coal in China’s energy mix has dropped from over 80 percent to more like 50 percent in the space of just over a decade. China accounts for half the world’s off-shore wind investment and approximately 99 percent of the world’s electric buses (“in 2019, of 425,000 electric buses in the world, 2,500 of them were not in China”). China’s investment in wind and solar has had an important global impact, in that it has “been on such a large scale that it has made them a cheaper source of energy than fossil fuels, which is a crucial global life line.”
China’s unprecedented investment in high-speed rail has resulted in a decrease in domestic air traffic – in contrast with the US, where there is almost no high-speed rail and domestic air traffic is increasing. While the US spends 14 times as much on its military than on green transition, China spends more than double on its green transition than on its military.
Unfortunately, Paul observes, the anti-China propaganda in the West is so powerful that very few are paying attention to its progress on these issues, even within the left and the climate movement. Paul calls on socialists and climate activists to tell the truth about China and expose lies; to oppose the war drive; and to oppose the notion of decoupling, noting that the US’s sanctions on solar panels from China have led to a 23 percent reduction in solar installations in the US.
The speech is also published on Paul’s Urban Ramblings blog.
What China does to tackle the climate crisis will have a huge impact on whether humanity succumbs to it or not.
This is partly because it
- is already the world’s largest economy in Purchase Power Parity terms
- has a population greater than that of Europe, North America, South America and Australasia combined; a four continent country
- is a developing country that has developed very successfully
- is now exceeding the US in the number of patents for new inventions filed every year
- is a country run, not by the private sector interests that make the USA the best democracy money can buy, but by a Communist Party with 90 million members; whose project is to build Socialism with Chinese characteristics.
This is in a context in which the US – as the self proclaimed “indispensable nation” and “global leader” – the country for which the rules in the “rules based international order” are written – is failing spectacularly to lead the world in confronting its greatest existential challenge – the breakdown of the climactic conditions in which human society can continue to exist – and prioritising war instead.
- On current government spending, the US is putting fourteen times as much into its military as it is into domestic green transmission, and is encouraging its allies to increase theirs too; which they are doing.
- The economic context of this is that, because globalisation now favours China not the US, the US is “decoupling” from it and pressing its subordinate allies to do the same, while screwing them over at the same time.
- China, by contrast, is spending more than twice as much on green transition as on its military. More precise look at these figures here.
China’s is the right priority for every country because of the scale of the problem. Reports that the 1.5C limit is fast getting beyond reach should be a klaxon going off in all our heads. Not an invitation to fatalism, which will be fatal, but to redouble efforts to accelerate the scale and speed of transition to limit the damage as much as possible.Continue reading Oppose the war drive and work with China to prevent climate catastrophe