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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

A planned energy policy now!

EXTINCTION REBELLION (XR) campaigners are back in town this week doing their best to “tell the truth about climate change” in colourful street protests to demand the urgent action needed to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

The ecology movement was established following a call from several academics and veteran green campaigners in 2018 to set up a movement that embraces Gandhi-style civil disobedience to take their demands to the streets and fire a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown.

Their sit-down protests and efforts to paralyse traffic in London over the last two weeks are part of XR’s long-term campaign to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.

Few would disagree with them on this. Twenty or so years ago the jury was still out on climate change. The capitalists deployed battalions of well‑paid ‘experts’ to deny global warning, to claim renewable energy is costly and that nuclear energy is cheap and clean. Now only the likes of a Donald Trump are in denial. UNICEF has warned that a billion children are now exposed to a deadly combination of climate and environmental crises and with some changes to our climate now inevitable and irreversible, humanity has now been given an unequivocal ‘code red’ warning.

XR says that if we are to have any hope of coping with the emergency, we must move beyond the politics that have so far held us back and into listening, dialogue and towards unity and action. The eco-warriors say they don’t want to seize power but simply want to place power in the hands of citizens through “citizens’ assemblies”.

Members of a citizens’ assembly are typically assembled at random from the general public – like a jury – to look at an issue and then make recommendations to parliament or other elected bodies. To a limited extent they already work as advisory committees to bourgeois parliaments. The Climate Assembly UK is one of them.

All bourgeois politicians, left, right and centre, now pay lip-service to the eco-lobby but few, if any, are prepared to challenge the super-profits that the banks and corporations get from their fossil fuel investments.

The key issue is winning over the unions and the working class their leaders claim to represent to an ecological agenda to meet the pressing demands of the day.

The Johnson government has set an ambition for two million green jobs by 2030 – jobs in insulating homes, making electric vehicles and rolling out wind turbines. And last year the Government launched the independent Green Jobs Taskforce, which includes representatives from the TUC and the Prospect union as well as industry and academia – to ensure that the climate transition delivers quality jobs and leaves no workers behind.

Back in 2010 a major academic study, Zero Carbon Britain 2030, showed that with existing technology Britain can almost entirely eliminate its dependence on fossil fuels in two decades.

Britain’s onshore and offshore wind and wave potential alone could provide two‑thirds of future carbon‑free energy need; available energy‑efficient construction can cut domestic housing energy needs by 70 per cent; and transport energy use can be cut by 63 per cent.

What we now need is a planned and integrated national energy policy to reduce Britain’s dependence on energy imports and giant energy corporations, and to create skilled employment in new technology industries.