Wednesday July 06, 2022

Climate Change and capitalism: A hand in glove relationship

November 21, 2021

With the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, some concrete steps have been taken by many states to reduce dependency on fossil fuel for energy consumption. However, a holistic approach is needed to combat climate change at structural level and make a universal policy regarding carbon emissions. Just like the world gathered in 1948 to lay down the charter of Human Rights, a charter of Climate Change has to laid down and it should address the political, economical and social responsibilities of each nation state at all levels. One of them is to reform capitalism and consumerism.

This individualistic profit oriented system of capitalism often come at the cost of collective good and puts survival of humanity in jeopardy. Someone told me once that just like the five fingers of a hand, there are five Gods that humans worships by default. 1) Power, 2) Wealth, 3) Estate, 4) Women and like a pharaoh the fifth is himself, when he attain the rest of four. Same is the case of climate change, this greed for power, wealth and hegemony of nation states at global level and corporations and individuals at societal level is coming at the cost of survival of humanity in the context of climate change.

For example, according to CIA’s fact book, seventy per cent of USA’s energy needs comes from fossil fuel consumption while China’s energy dependency on fossil fuel is eighty eight per cent. Since, both are at odds with each other in the political and economic dynamics, non will be willing to mitigate their dependency of coal because its a matter of maintaining a hegemony.

Capitalism has been one of major reasons for world wars and it is still one of reasons why the world is losing the war against climate change because it creates an unprecedented competition between competitors that often come at the cost of survival of humanity. The world needs to draw a line today, it needs to reform capitalism so that a healthy competition take place but not to that extent when even the collective good is put in jeopardy. WTO protocols needs to be amended and trade tarrif should be reduced for those states that are taking concrete steps combating climate change while MFN (most favoured nation) protocol should also be amended and so that carbon tariff can be added to the products coming from those states that are not taking active measures in the war against climate change.

Similarly, at the state level, governments needs to put carbon tax and carbon tax exemption for those industries that do comply with the war against climate change. Global financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank also needs to support the cause and provide debt relief to those states that are taking steps in fighting climate change. If, we are the save our future generation from the misery, we have to work together with an holistic approach.

— The writer is a graduate of London School of Economics and a former research officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad.