EMERGING ECONOMIES HAVE TO PLAY MAJOR ROLE IN THE PROCESS
Humanity faces a planetary emergency, and survival of all life is at stake. Four years ago, the Paris Climate Accords were adopted. The Accords, signed by 197 nations including the U.S. under the Obama administration, marked an unprecedented level of global cooperation to fight the climate crisis.
Despite the agreement, the climate and ecological crises have sharpened. One need only look at the environmental catastrophe unfolding in Australia, with a large part of the continent consumed by infernos, and its famed coral reefs and kelp forests dying off. Meanwhile, not far away, Indonesia has been hit with the worst monsoon rains in years, flooding, and a rising death toll.
The past decade is the warmest ever recorded, caused by the highest ever atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Sea levels, along with ocean heat and acid levels, continue to rise. Extreme weather events, including heatwaves, are increasingly common.
“If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human wellbeing,” the World Meteorological Organization’s Secretary-General Petteri Taalas recently said.
The crisis is compounded by the Trump administration’s drive to undo every pro-environmental policy of the Obama administration. Trump wasted no time in withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords and abandoning goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The administration aims to gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
These extreme policies are no surprise. Fossil fuel corporations, global-warming deniers, and anti-science zealots dominate the Trump administration and the Republican Party. These forces also comprise a large part of the support base of the extreme right, propelling the assault on truth, democracy, and the Constitution. They pose a dire threat to democracy and the planet.
Meanwhile, the American people are moving in the opposite direction. The chorus of scientific consensus on global warming and alarm by the American people is multiplying. Nearly 40% of Americans now think climate change is a crisis, despite a massive disinformation campaign by the fossil fuel corporations.
The United States Climate Alliance, a coalition of states and territories committed to implementation of the Paris Accords, was founded in response to Trump’s withdrawal from it. The coalition represents over half the U.S. population.
Ousting Trump and the GOP Senate majority and its domination of state legislatures in the 2020 elections and electing a pro-environment president and Congress is the first step in defending and expanding democracy and addressing the climate crisis.
Once Trump and the GOP are ousted, the question then becomes what kind of federal policies will be needed. Climate justice and allied democratic movements will be crucial in not only ousting Trump but shaping those policies.
Every Democratic candidate for president has a program to aggressively address the climate crisis, move to sustainability, and rejoin the Paris Climate Accords at a minimum. Some go further than others.
Some support the Green New Deal (GND), the comprehensive framework to address the crisis introduced by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ray Markey, D-Mass. The GND has reframed the entire debate for addressing the crisis. The GND also projects a timetable of ten years to implement the transition to sustainability to avert the worst case scenarios of climate and ecological crisis.
Averting the worst of the climate crisis will take a global effort on an unprecedented scale and timeline. Even then, the world’s people will be dealing with the effects of climate and ecological crises for decades to come. The consequences are and will be devastating for humanity. They will be especially devastating for developing countries, with populations that are the most vulnerable to sea-level rise, extreme heat episodes, drought, and resource exhaustion. But all countries, including the U.S., are and will face these issues to one degree or another.
Because the climate and ecological crises are an unprecedented global issue, the U.S. must adopt a new kind of foreign policy. In a New York Times op-ed piece, former Secretary of State John Kerry and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., lament the inability of the U.S. to match China in the production of green energy.
Kerry and Khanna call for a national strategy that will lead to U.S. domination in the “green energy race” with China. They see winning this race as key to a global approach to deny China’s dominant economic status and for a world in which “our values prevail.” They presumably mean U.S. capitalist global domination.
The problems of transitioning to sustainability and healing our oceans, land, and air are so vast and complex; they require global cooperation on an unprecedented scale over a short time span. Collaboration in scientific research, technological development, and the sharing of intellectual property are essential.
Addressing the planetary emergency and transitioning to a globally sustainable economy is part of the transition to a new global order, a new stage of globalization characterized by cooperation.
Globalization is an irreversible historic process encompassing many stages. Many signs point to the exhaustion of the current phase of globalization dominated by the global capitalist system, or neoliberalism. U.S. single power domination and deepening crisis and inequality also characterize this stage. But the U.S. is a descending superpower, and despite every effort, the U.S. ruling class and global capitalist system are less able to determine the course of global economic development. The rise of China, emerging economies, and alternative global institutions and blocs are increasingly shaping globalization.
The new stage of globalization will, by necessity, be characterized by global cooperation, peaceful co-existence, mutual benefit, respect for sovereignty, and equality between nations. It will be characterized by transition to sustainability and demilitari-zation—turning missiles into wind farms. The race for green energy and sustainability is not one that pits one nation against another for domination. It is a race of all of humanity against time, a race for our mutual survival.