The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

A Cruel Charade in the Name of “Fighting Climate Change”

Dec 5, 2022

The 27th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, was held at the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh in November. Attended by delegates from 190 countries and 92 heads of state, it produced what the previous 26 COP conferences had produced before: some promises made by governments and nothing else. And, judging from the previous 26 conferences, we can be certain that these governments—those of the richest, and most carbon-producing, countries—will not keep these promises either.

This time around, the “new” promise is to contribute money to a “loss and damage fund,” supposedly to help underdeveloped countries pay for the damage done by extreme weather events—such as the recent floods in Pakistan, which in fact was only one of many catastrophic weather events around the world in 2022.

Behind these increasingly severe weather events (heat waves, storms, floods, droughts) is a steady rise in the average temperature of the earth’s surface (known as global warming)—which, in turn, is caused by an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide gas in the earth’s atmosphere. So, the stated goal of these annual UN conferences is for governments to take measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, by reducing the burning of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and natural gas).

But these conferences have proved to be a charade, a meaningless yearly ritual that actually moves further and further away from that stated goal. Since the first COP meeting in 1995, carbon dioxide emissions and temperatures have only kept increasing, with exactly the expected consequences: more and more severe, and more and more destructive, heat waves, wildfires, storms, floods and droughts.

Besides government delegates, there were also thousands of so-called “civil society” visitors at COP27, including many activists who, as they do every year, protested the inaction of governments in the face of the worsening climate crisis. In fact, scientists have been coming up with ideas to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for a long time. But neither scientists nor protesters make such decisions. It’s not even governments, for that matter. In this capitalist system we live under, the decisions on how to produce energy are made in the boardrooms of privately owned energy companies—the very companies that profit from extracting and selling fossil fuels.

And those profits are anything but small. The fossil fuel industry expects 4 TRILLION dollars in profit in 2022 alone, an amount roughly equal to Germany’s GDP (gross domestic product), which is the largest in Europe and fourth-largest in the world.

So, unlike government delegates who could never agree, there was in fact one big group of participants in the hallways of the conference who were clear about their goal. More than 630 lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry (25% more than last year) descended on the conference, to further cement their ties with the governments of rich countries that provide them with generous subsidies to extract more fossil fuels—and to pollute more.

Is it any surprise that this conference, like the ones before, produced a lot of empty speeches, a few promises, including promises to continue to negotiate next year, and zero action in the foreseeable future?