When you read this, COP26 will have finished.
The 500 or so fossil fuel industry lobbyists (the biggest delegation by far) will have concluded their business. The 400 or so private jets which were flown into Glasgow to discuss matters of climate, will have flown back home carrying the future of green capitalism and eco-colonialism.
The performative dance to keep the population trapped in sophistry, idle and placated, will be done. They billed COP26 as our last best hope for environmental stability. It failed.
One of the larger themes was Carbon Offsetting, let’s all get behind it they say.Well, You can’t offset hypocrisy, never mind that there is not enough space on the Earth to offset the carbon we are putting out. It would take more than five times the size of India to do so. Planting a “Green Belt”, whether it’s across Africa or the Pennies, doesn’t negate the Carbon being pumped out elsewhere, It’s simply not how it works. Even if all this planting happens in the green belts and across former farm fields the world over, this is new growth we’re talking about, it's not old growth, it's not a forest. It is in fact little more than cash crop, agroforestry and timber. The bio-diversity of these spaces is nothing by comparison. They say they want to end deforestation by 2030, well nearly 70% of wildlife has been lost since 1970, how much more are we going to lose in the next 8 years (and more) as the bastards drain every last bit of profit out of ancient woodlands and jungle that they can? Funny thing is, we have more trees now than we did forty years ago, a 2016 study illustrated this, but it has done little to alter the impact of expanding industries and growth capitalism, they mask their destruction behind being green, well fuck, you can't plant rows of trees which you'll chop down in a few years and say you're replacing ancient woodland. These caprious governments are one moment telling us that our forested areas are vital to the survival of the planet and the next signing agreements for further exploitation. Don't worry tho, we're all it it together.
I can't get over the fact they had the sheer audacity to podium Jeff Bezos. This despite the 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste churned out by Amazon each year, you know the mega corporation with the carbon footprint larger than most countries. This privileged platform which could have been given to any of a number of climate scientists was instead given to Jeff despite just a few weeks earlier he was blasting off for a outrageously polluting 10 minute jaunt in space. Jeff spoke about being aware of our impact, despite taking a helicopter 120 miles followed by a private jet for 2000 miles to arrive at COP26 to give a speech. Jeff wants you to recycle, turn the temperature down, and consider limiting your carbon footprint like a good eco-minded prole. He’s Pledged $2 billion to a land restoration project in Africa. Amazon's revenue in 2020 grew 38% to $386 billion. Philanthropy from our great capitalist saviours as they throttle the life out of us. We are drowing ourselves for convenience, subjugating ourselves to economic tryanny out of a desperate fear that we might not be able to have packages arrive within 24 hours if the hippies win.
Oh and let’s not forget the fucking Malthusians from Population Matters and similar. They’re fixated on the idea that there are just too many dark skinned people on the planet. They want to use the injection of progressive values to gently encourage women to have smaller families and get educated to ensure they don’t doom us all with over population. Which I suppose sounds great until you think for two seconds and realise it’s a thin veneer over eco-fascism and 14 words. Their choice of language never quite getting to “population control” and “this is fucking eugenics with an environmental face lift”. No it doesn’t matter that the planet already over produces food to the tune of some 50% more than required. It doesn’t matter that serious famine is a collective choice, one which we make consistently due to political apathy and economic greed.
The planet is not overpopulated.
The profiteers are misusing it’s resources.
The global north, despite having a much smaller population account for the vast majority of carbon and pollution in general. The average carbon footprint of someone in Britain is 50x that of someone in Malawi and the average for someone in the USA is 3x ours. Even when you include the manufacturing industries of China or the garment industries in India... but like... who the hell you think they are producing that for? This is before we remember that in actuality the climate issue is also a class issue and even here in our delightful MEDCs, the truth of the matter is that the top 10% dwarf the rest of population for the tonnes of CO2 per capita, the top 1%, yeah you guessed it.
All those luxury jets really add up.
This idea that it’s you, the working class who can do something about it was a popular one this year, well it is a near omnipresent factor of life these past few years sure, but they’ve really been at it these past few weeks. It’s not like the oligarchs are ignorant of this disparity, heck the Financial Times is quite comfortable chirping on about it and yet The One Show won’t fucking shut up about whatever pat on the back project some school is doing or how you can take some tiny pointless step towards being less the horrible polluting bastard that you are. Look, they say, if everyone chipped in, we’d save the planet by X-Mas. It’s a sweet delusion, but that’s all it is.
There is only one solution to the cascade apocalypse before us and that is a rennaissance of revolutionary ideas, for the working classes to step out of consumerist suicide, collectivise their work places, localise their productivity and say no more to these ivory towered barons and the cretins in parliament still suckling on the rotten teat of an empire long since fallen.
Green Capitalism will not save you.
Only you can do that. Let go of your fear and take action.
COP26 tho, the pact is failure after failure. Heck they utterly failed to scrap the military exemption from carbon targets. Armed forces are not even required to count their carbon emissions and they are not included in countries’ emission reduction targets. This makes the targets nonsensical. The absolute limit of the climate change projections is an increase of 1.5 degrees. This is the absolute, we’ve already got too far, millions are going to die but if it get’s higher than this, we are going to see a grand collapse, limit that must be met.. The best they could promise was a 1.8 degree increase and let’s face it we all know that is twaddle, as consistantly the agreements laid before to equal applause have failed time and time again.
As I went through the agreement, picking out what I could from the obfuscated language my screen pinged with a notification from a friend, It’s a a promotional piece from an oil giant made for COP26 where they wax lyrical about how they are investing in green, however they need the profits from their ongoing and newly staked out fossil fuel operations in order to do this. It simply doesn’t make economic sense to save the planet from the murderous grasp of the fossil fuel industry, and let’s not forget, much of the early data that really consolidated our fears about the imminent threat came from research these companies did themselves. Decades ago. Capitalism by it’s very nature will continue to throttle the planet for ever ounce of profit until the death toll starts to harm the bottom line. This is what the nice man who appeared all reasonable and personable on the screen said. There is simply no other way to interpret it. They say it very clearly, it’s not a conspiracy or requiring years of peer review. We are fucked, millions will die, but come on, what about the share holders? COP26 stands before us and lays itself open and overt.They arn't even bothering to deny it anymore. The parody of environmentalism which is green capitalism will be the saccharine mantra as we suffocate and behind the scenes green colonialism, the tendrils of western states, continue to slither in and infiltrate distant lands. We have to win the trade war with China right?
Don’t worry tho, they managed to put together a mealy mouthed agreement to “phase out” the use of coal and a promise to stop deforestation...in eight years. It's ok. Promise. Coal will be phased out because it’s less profitable and new capitalist ventures are being put in to replace it. Bojo is acting like it’s a victory, that its the “beginning of the end of climate change”. He then flew home. I think it's vital that we remember those who don’t get to go home and forget about it until next year.
The indigenous comrades who came from around the world to find solidarity on the streets and in the kindness of Glasgow’s people. They’re deeply frustrated with the facade of interest, the speech making and apathetic ears. The hope that just one of these powerful leaders would show genuine interest in saving their homes from the industrial binge, all but snubbed out. They are on the front line, have been for decades, dying in distant parts of the world, unheard. Well that’s changed now. From West Papuans to the Waorani people, from Wallmapu to the Wet’suwet’en territories, the building might of indigenous communities are finding solidarity in each other. They will not be placated. For them this is not academic, or some future they don’t need to worry about yet.
The waters are here, the forests are gone.
There is no more time, it is already too late.
Ofcourse civil society stands with them and XR rebels shed tears for their pain, as both attempt to change the course of the avalanche with passive protests and political whispers, both hoping that a petition to the bastards killing the planet might some how be accepted. Alongside this tho there is this tremendous wave of solidarity and rage coming from the young rebels who flooded the streets. Across the country they are furious with righteous indignation and anger at the elders that have been failing them. Several comrades make a point of telling me how fantastically bad ass they were up in Glasgow, as one said “We were angry about student loans, they are angry about the death of the planet. They understand what it means and serious in a way we never were”. They don’t care to wax lyrical, they have a dark shadow looming and they are appalled that we have let this beast rise before them. More love to them. I hope they let COP26 radicalise them. I hope they take the rage they already have burning and let that grow exponentially. No more A-B marches, no more committees and endless discourse. No more rambling opinion pieces in Anarchist rags or griping into social media oubliettes. COP28 is in the fucking UAE. Green capital isn't going to save you.
We keep us safe.
We need a revolutionary renaissance and it seems that we’ll be getting one, so listen to the youth. They want us all to take to this task together, whatever your politics, whatever your age, where ever you may live. Let the rage of the youth take hold of you oncemore.
The waters are here, the forests are gone.
There is no more time, it is already too late.
We have to save the planet, by any means necessary. ■
Peter Ó Máille
(Edited. This was wrote and posted before a morning cup of tea and editing passes ;p)
There are currently a lot of people saying that protesting right now, or protests that are partly violent or that encounter police violence is counterproductive.
There is absolutely no historical or social scientific basis for making such claims. Those who make them are pretty much always just expressing their own preferences.
I’ll make four points here.
1. Almost all successful protest anywhere in the world have some kind of violent element or confrontations with the police.
Just looking at this country, we can look to the Poll Tax, the Suffragettes or even the BLM protests last year. There are of course also many such movements that end in defeat, like Orgreave. But the reasons for success or defeat are much broader and more complex than whether there has been confrontation with police.
2. The confrontational part is always only one small part of the whole movement, but it is one that receives attention and can put the issue in people’s minds.
That is true for the current moment too. Loads of people are doing things actively to oppose this Bill on and off the streets. Very few of those have been involved in direct confrontations with police but those are the instances that tend to make local and national news. That confrontation/direct action element is then a key part, but just a part of the whole movement/campaign.
3. People who make claims about counterproductive tactics often point to the fact that protests are unpopular. But all protest is unpopular amongst the majority of the public.
Still, much protest is successful. Majority support is not a means to success. Instead, what is important is dedicated engagement and support by many people, but not a majority. Importantly, there are huge chunks of the population that do not support the protests themselves but have started considering this Bill and thinking that it probably is a bad idea. The goal of protestors is this not to become popular, but for their cause to gain support. And that is happening already. It was pressure on Labour following the Sisters Uncut vigil for Sarah Everard and police repression that led to Labour coming out against the Bill.
4. One of the main problems with this Bill is that it’s actually unenforceable.
No state or police force can control protests to the extent that the Bill aims to do. The current protests in Bristol, which may spread to other cities, show how impossible it is to police protest in such a way. Bear in mind that the Bill would render most protest illegal and have severe punishments for lawbreaking protest. That would push the organisation of protest underground, making it more volatile and less coherent. That is actually exactly what is happening right now under Covid restrictions. Thus, continuing these protests become a kind of direct action to show what the future will look like under this Bill.
And one last point on Bristol: mayor Marvin Rees says that Bristol is a pointless site because Bristol MPs are already voting against the Bill.
But if Bristol is a catalyst for protests around the country, showing how unenforceable this Bill is, then that will ultimately cause problem for the government.
Of course, we don’t know that that will happen. It may or it may not. But neither the Mayor of Bristol nor the shadow chancellor know that either. So what they are saying should not be taken with any more credibility than what Joe Bloggs has to say about it.
None of this is decided. There is no clear and obvious way to success or failure. All is to play for, on the streets and in the Houses of Parliament. ■
Dr Oscar Berglund
Dr Oscar Berglund is a lecturer in international public and social policy at the University of Bristol’s School for Policy Studies. You can find him on twitter @berglund_Oscar
Over the last few weeks protests against the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill have hit the headlines, particularly protests in Bristol, where police have acted violently and lied about the extent of injuries inflicted upon them by the protesters.
Online the hashtag #KillTheBill has been used extensively, leading to a debate about the ambiguous language. I've seen people pleading with protesters not to use such a phrase because it could be misunderstood as referring to the police.
I've seen people delighting in the ambiguity. I've seen police officers in high positions lamenting the fact that police officers they know have died in the course of their 'duties' and appealing for a different use of language. One high up officer described being a police officer as a difficult job, as if being part of the oppressive state is actually work. It isn't a job; it's a role. It comes with dangers because oppression will naturally pit you against the people.
Of course, the British like a good pun. We also have a rich history of dark humour. The fact that people are protesting about a Bill going through parliament and 'bill' is slang for cops is a rich opportunity for punnage, irony and dark humour. Dark humour invites people to judge the joke and either choose to laugh or be offended. Choose wisely as there is a flip side to this coin. Your choice will be noted by those around you and in turn you will be judged for your sense of humour.
The first protest I attended was in London, at the back end of 1994. The Criminal Justice Bill sought stricter rules around raves, even restricting the number of beats per minute a track of music could go up to before a party was shut down. The establishment were worried about the impact on young minds, particularly as people seemed to attend these events and then consume drugs. Imagine. The Conservative government couldn't tolerate the fun being had. So they legislated to stop the right to party.
In 1994, the Bill going through parliament would also curtail trespass rights, just like the current one. I remember the placards on the protest I attended. "Kill The Bill" was the phrase most commonly used. There was also disorder. A large London protest saw people attempt to scale the gates at Downing Street. The protest I attended was not allowed to go past the Prime minister's residence. I remember getting close and seeing for the first time in my life a row of riot police at the ready.
So, let's be clear. Everyone using the hashtag is aware of the connotations. A minority of hardcore protesters might even take it literally and delight in the killing of cops. Most though are using it to highlight the problems with the police and the problems of the bill passing through parliament. They are linked and the slogan works to link them. It's dark humour, get over it.
I don't see any valid limit to protest. While we are not totally free, all protest is legitimate. I do not advocate all forms of protest, however. It really depends on circumstance and it's not my decision; protests sway democratically in their tactics. What form a protest will take is for those present to decide, but often it is dictated by the policing of the event. When the police turn up for violence, the protest ends inevitably with violence. Any legislation restricting protest is wrong in principle. The police have enough powers already. They not should be given more. #KillTheBill ■
Jon Bigger, Anarchist Writer.
Originally hosted on Jon's Journal.