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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

‘We must keep 1.5 alive’

by New Worker correspondent

SOARING TEMPERATURES and dry, gusty winds are fuelling wildfires in Africa, Europe and North America. Wild fires are raging through California and more than 40 people, including 25 soldiers, have died fighting the flames in northern Algeria. Climate change campaigners are demanding urgent global action to halt the global warming that has led to persistent hotter and drier weather throughout the world, and a United Nations agency warns that the climate crisis is unfolding faster and more violently than previously thought.

Thousands of people have been forced to flee the blaze that is sweeping through parts of Greece whilst the Greek communist leader calls on supporters to join in the efforts to fight the fires.

The Greek government spends billions of euros on war-planes and millions more propping up the privately-owned Aegean Airlines and setting up a new “university police” force. Meanwhile, funding for fire-protection has been cut.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has gone on television to apologise for failures in tackling the devastating wildfires that are raging across the country. “We may have done what was humanly possible, but in many cases it was not enough,” the Greek conservative politician said.

Thick smoke is billowing off the island of Evia, just north of Athens, where thousands have fled their homes to escape the flames. There, in the village of Rovies, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the leader of the Greek communist party (KKE), said: “We are giving all in this fight.”

“This isn’t the moment for big words; now is a moment of fighting for the suppression of fires” Koutsoumbas said, calling on the authorities to do their utmost to save lives, houses, forests and wooded areas. No-one must be left alone. Immediate relief must be provided to the victims and the state must provide the necessary support in order for these people to get back on their feet.

Meanwhile, eco-warriors are calling for urgent action to avert global disaster. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is going to launch a new campaign in London, including civil disobedience, later in the month to raise public awareness about the crisis, which one UN agency fears has now passed the tipping point.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report this week that said climate change is “widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame”.

But there is still time to limit climate change, the IPCC experts say. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could quickly improve air quality, and in 20–30 years global temperatures could stabilise.

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Scientists are also observing changes across the whole of Earth’s climate system: in the atmosphere, the oceans, ice floes, and on land.

The report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, highlights that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the report was nothing less than “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable”.

He noted that the internationally-agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels of global heating was “perilously close. We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold, is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path.

“We must act decisively now, to keep 1.5 alive.”

The UN chief said that solutions were clear. “Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage” he said.