Climate change is not a ‘business opportunity’: we need action now

February 3, 2018
Issac Cordal’s powerful sculpture of men in suits talking while the water rises above their heads.

Such is the growing alarm at the devastating impact of climate change that even some world leaders have distanced themselves from US President Donald Trump at the January World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos in Switzerland.

Trump was greeted with boos and hisses in response to his criticism of the media as “nasty, mean, vicious and fake”. At one session, even after being favourably introduced by Davos founder Klaus Schwab, Trump was still greeted with disapproving boos.

Trump used the forum to make a pitch for his “US is open for business” case. He claimed that after just one year of being in power, the US has become stronger economically and that “there has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States”.

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who funded her own ticket to attend the WEF, said Trump was “tone deaf” to criticisms. She said his speech was self-referential, and did not address critical global issues, such as climate change.

Interestingly, other leaders were not worried about going against Trump.

French President Emmanuel Macron said France would shut down all its coal-fired power stations by 2021.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said climate change is the “greatest threat to civilisation”. But, being a close friend of Gautam Adani — the business tycoon who is still pushing hard to build the gigantic and controversial coal mine in central Queensland — one has to take this with a bucket of salt.

A summary of the WEF climate-related discussion makes it clear why so many country and business leaders were happy to talk about climate change: they see it as a business opportunity!

Anand Mahindra, CEO of the Indian multinational conglomerate Mahindra Group, said as much. One has to wonder why Trump doesn’t, given his love of capitalism. While we have good reason to doubt various commitments made by heads of government, the fact that the main message at this year’s WEF was that this has to be the year of climate action means that the people’s movements for real action on climate change are having an impact.

We know we cannot trust most world leaders to take the urgent steps necessary to act on climate change today because they are compromised by their close association with the powerful fossil fuel lobby.

We have to force them to act — and urgently. This year there will be numerous opportunities to organise protests: the G7 Leaders Summit in June, the Global Climate Action Summit in September as well as Conference of Parties (COP) meetings in November and December.

We have to make climate change an issue they cannot simply sit around and talk about while the water rises— as Issac Cordal’s powerful sculpture of men in suits talking while the water rises above their heads aptly illustrates.

To stop this impending catastrophe and for real climate justice, we need to stop the Adani project and we need to stop all the other coal and gas projects.

The campaign against Adani shows what can be achieved with grassroots organising, direct actions, mobilising on the streets and sustained work in local communities.

Green Left Weekly is doing its bit in helping create the power that is needed if we are going to be able to stop the climate-destroying elites and develop a bigger and stronger voice of resistance. But we need your support.

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