Climate activists have described this month’s Conference of the Parties on climate change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, as a make-or-break opportunity to avert disastrous climate change.
The COP21 in Paris was similarly cast as a make-or-break moment in 2015, as well as the 2009 COP15 in Copenhagen. Since 1995, when the states that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Berlin, Germany, there have been COPs every year. As the COP is the treaty’s supreme decision-making body of the treaty, it has final decision-making authority over how the treaty will be interpreted and implemented.
However, this year’s summit garnered exceptional attention because just two months before its opening, it was preceded by the release of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounding the alarm on climate change. Thus, we were told, the effects and costs of warming up the planet by 2.7° Fahrenheit (1.5° Celsius) will be much greater than the ultra-cautious, fossil-fuel-friendly IPCC has led us to expect up until now. Worse, we may reach this point in 10 to 12 years.
The report’s urgent tone was highly gratifying to those who had for years been trying, to no avail, to convey just such urgency, and the document elicited a substantial response everywhere, even in the mainstream media.
However, there is no cause for rejoicing; on the contrary, for behind the urgent tone of the October report, barring a popular revolt, COP24 portends business as usual. In short, it is old Kool-Aid in new bottles, and we are being asked to drink, copiously.
A thorough reading of the report reveals a profoundly disturbing underlying assumption: All measures taken to avoid the cataclysm that we have so long and so assiduously been preparing will be carried out within the parameters of the very parasitical, predatory capitalist paradigm that has brought us precisely to the brink. Envisioning another, humane world order seems to be out of the…