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WATCH: The Ethics of Voluntary Carbon Offsets – Professor Clive Spash

WATCH: The Ethics of Voluntary Carbon Offsets – Professor Clive Spash

November 10, 2019

“WATCH: The Ethics of Voluntary Carbon Offsets – Professor Clive Spash”

 

“Sales of so-called carbon offsets are soaring: Myclimate, a Swiss nonprofit whose clients include Deutsche Lufthansa AG, reported a five-fold uptake in its credits in a year. At Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest discount carrier, the number of customers making voluntary offset payments has almost doubled in 18 months.”

 

— Bloomberg, August 10, 2019

 

“Gold Standard [WWF] has reported a fourfold increase in income from individuals and small businesses paying for carbon offsets through its platform….‘We are seeing the Greta effect, the impact of Extinction Rebellion, the impact of the words of David Attenborough, the school strikes, all of these coming together.'”

 

— The Guardian, November 8, 2019

The following clip is an excerpt from the lecture The Brave New World of Carbon Trading by Professor and ecological economist Clive Spash, who discusses the limitations of emissions trading schemes. Video published March 11, 2010.

“Corporate power is shown to be a major force affecting emissions market operation and design. The potential for manipulation to achieve financial gain, while showing little regard for environmental or social consequences, is evident as markets have extended internationally and via trading offsets. At the individual level, there is the potential for emissions trading to have undesirable ethical and psychological impacts and to crowd out voluntary actions. I conclude that the focus on such markets is creating a distraction from the need for changing human behaviour, institutions and infrastructure.”

In 2009 Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) wrote to New Political Economy demanding that the paper entitled ‘The Brave New World of Carbon Trading’ not be published. [Nov 7, 2009: Censorship of Critique of Emissions Trading and Carbon-Offsets Schemes]

Website of Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria: https://www.clivespash.org/

 

Listen: How to Sell a Pretend Climate Movement: Reading Act IV of Cory Morningstar’s Series on the NGO Industrial Complex

Listen: How to Sell a Pretend Climate Movement: Reading Act IV of Cory Morningstar’s Series on the NGO Industrial Complex

Ghion Journal

September 18, 2019

By Stephen Boni

 

 

About 43% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. After the establishment of the United States government, over a near 250-year period, the number of lawyers in Congress has, by-and-large, mirrored that original percentage. In fact, our current Congress is made up of 43% lawyers. This is a powerful voting block of like-minded people.

Additionally, it isn’t much of a secret how important legal expertise is to modern corporations and how many lawyers exist among their executive ranks. And America’s most prominent corporations represent the financial backing of nearly all members of Congress.

The way lawyers have been trained to think, the skills they possess, the way they maneuver, and what they maneuver for casts a massive shadow over what kinds of decisions get made for our society—and what kind of loose consensus (or acquiescence) gets achieved in order for those decisions to stick.

What I’m talking about is how those decisions are sold to us. Because, at this point, there are very few societal decisions that are made from the ground up by regular citizens.

As I sat in front of the Words of Others podcast mic this week to read Act IV of Cory Morningstar’s multi-part series on how the corporate elite are using a string of nonprofits, foundations and advocacy organizations to engineer a specific set of likely ineffectual responses to the climate and pollution crisis, I noticed how she highlighted elite use of nuanced language—language that smacks of lawyerly thinking—as one of the key methods members of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) industrial complex use to mask the basic assumptions behind the solutions they want the world to adopt.

It’s interesting to me that it was this aspect of Morningstar’s piece that jumped out. The issue of precise but deceptive language is not the focal point of the article. What her piece zeroes in on, actually, is the evidence of a coordinated, psychologically thought through marketing campaign cutting across the entire swath of NGOs currently inserting themselves into the climate crisis movement.

But a marketing campaign is about storytelling—and storytelling is, in large part, about the use of language. And the language used to sell us a movement is consciously connected by its salespeople to the language used to sell the movement’s solutions.

About a quarter of the way through the piece, Morningstar notes the use of a very specific phrase in the proposals of NGO-connected elites to define their specific goal for reducing carbon emissions: “Net Zero Emissions”.

As she explains, this is a very precise modification of carbon goals articulated by NGOs in previous years, and certainly a departure from what grassroots climate activists seek. Because “net zero emissions” doesn’t mean a massive reduction in the amount of carbon we’re pumping into the atmosphere:

Rather, it is the amount of emissions being put into the atmosphere being equal to the amount being “captured.”

To achieve that carbon capture, the NGO industrial complex is seeking huge investments for carbon capture storage technology, investments they don’t want to make with their own money but want to take from pension funds and our tax dollars. And, as Morningstar laid out in Act III of her series (which you can listen to here), they want to securitize these investments in green technology so they can become a series of financial products that invigorate growth in a now perpetually sluggish capitalist economy.

This tricky use of language as a sales technique is remarkably precise. It’s not just marketing-ese. It’s downright lawyerly. “Net Zero Emissions” sounds good, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t mean genuinely cutting carbon emissions, reducing consumption, or pollution, or anything, honestly, that would hinder corporate profits.

Since the biosphere has not a single care about what our economic system is, and is only reacting to our very physical waste, “net zero emissions” is no solution at all. There is nothing adaptive about it. It places perceived economic needs over the healing needs of the Earth—which we need healthy for our own precarious wellbeing. But you would only know that by digging into the phrase, and most of us don’t parse the world like that or have the time to think about such things too deeply.

These lawyerly manipulations are not only effective at diverting us from genuine adaptive solutions to climate change and pollution, they’re also tailor-made to make sense to the lawyerly sensibilities of Congress, which, as we remember, is made up of people who have a vested interest in pursuing “solutions” (and use of the public purse) that meet the needs of their corporate donors.

In both politics and astro-turfed movements, we see this linguistic move time and again. Barack Obama was one of the most gifted practitioners when he was campaigning to be president. He knew—as the elites who run the world’s NGOs know—that citizens understand instinctively that things are so bad that only some kind of systemic change will make them better. Since that type of change was not his goal, he concocted a rhetorical style so open to interpretation, so precise and conscious in its use of vague language, that he was able to convince most of the voting public that he was their voice for sweeping change.

Even thought he wasn’t.

That particular use of precision; precision as a way to conceal, is built in to marketing to be sure, but even more so, it’s built in to legal language. In our Constitution itself, written by men steeped in legal thinking, we can see the good and evil sides of legal language’s ability to both reveal and hide meaning.

We live in a complex, often faceless society. Inverted totalitarianism, as theorized by famed historian Sheldon Wolin, gets expressed through the anonymity of the corporate state. Large nonprofits, foundations, NGOs and their backers on Wall Street are an embedded part of that corporate state.

In her extensive research and her journalism, Cory Morningstar is not trying to shit on Greta Thunberg or the Extinction Rebellion activists currently shutting down parts of London. She’s trying to tear apart that legalese-influenced language so we can inoculate ourselves against propaganda—and pursue ground-up solutions that actually have a chance of ensuring us a healthier planet, a healthier society and a healthier life.

After all, wouldn’t it be interesting if those taking part in these movements, armed with a little knowledge on who’s running these organizations, turned on their putative masters and spun the movement out of their control?

Now wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?

Incidentally, here’s how you can listen to the first three parts of Morningstar’s series:

Act I

Act II

Act III

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening.

 

[Stephen Boni is both Ghion Journal’s current editor and a contributing writer. His main interest is in analyzing the workings of empire and exploring ways to dismantle and replace systems of oppression. A conflicted New Englander with an affinity for people, music and avoiding isms, he lives in Oakland, California with his wife and young daughter.]

 

Greta Thunberg, Green Barbarism and #ClimateStrike

By Azhar Moideen

Greta Thunberg,
Image Courtesy : Twitter/@GretaThunberg

 

Every few years, in a crisis situation, a child captures the attention of the world and plays a huge role in convincing nay-sayers, silencing critics and seemingly ties the hands of the global ruling establishment into taking swift action. It happened in Afghanistan more than once, in Iraq and recently in Syria.

Now it has happened all over the world thanks to the passionate and compelling Greta Thunberg. In a world devoid of real adult heroes, children become unlikely superheroes to look up to. In just about a year after Thunberg began striking school to protest, alone, outside the Swedish Parliament, she has appeared on the cover of Time, featured in a Vice documentary, addressed climate and political conferences including the World Economic Forum and the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit, published a collection of her speeches (under the Penguin catalogue), won praise from world leaders, influenced the European Union’s budget and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. All this, for spearheading a global climate strike, which included protests in India.

‘India’s Greta Thunberg’: Seven-year-old Licypriya Kangujam from Manipur

In most respects, mobilising millions of people the world over, including trade union representatives, for what became the largest climate protest ever, is no mean feat. However, if the past be our guide, the working class should be cautious while extending support. Instead of being carried away by the number of people mobilised and the positive media coverage Thunberg got, the Third World needs to ask whether the movement has their best interest in mind. After all, even Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was used by Western imperialist interests and discarded when she spoke against them.

Alongside the meteoric rise of Thunberg, last year bears witness to dubious new environmental NGOs such as Extinction Rebellion and We Mean Business. Over the same period, ideas like the Green New Deal also captured new ground. Investigative reportage (such as by Cory Morningstar) exposes the non-profit-industrial complex that boosts and benefits from the popular surge of interest that ‘influencers’ gain.

The coterie managing Thunberg’s media appearances include the world’s biggest philanthropic foundations, whose contributions to the climate debate have essentially weakened plans to mitigate the effects of climate change. Their interests controlled the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement, which treats worst-case scenarios as an acceptable 50:50 chance. Dire warnings of negotiators from developing countries were conveniently forgotten.

These handful of philanthrocapitalists, despite contributing 0.1% to climate finance, have significantly influenced the climate debate: developing and promoting voluntary, market-based and bottom-up approaches can only be deemed a failure. They have erased the radical nature of grassroots environmental movements and propped up capitalist-friendly solutions such as carbon-trading instead. They call for “net-zero” emissions by pushing technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which have delivered poor results so far and only offset fossil fuel emission—or burn even more fossil fuel through Enhanced Oil Recovery.

If this is not enough, they now plan to implement “negative emissions” technologies such as the unproven BECCS, which, apart from uncertain benefits and large known nitrous oxide emissions, also requires vast tracts of land, fertilizer production and freshwater consumption. One scenario, for example, would require land three times the size of India. Such requirements have already led to large-scale land grab. Researchers are already talking of a new type of appropriation of nature called ‘green grabbing’. No wonder, the likes of Extinction Rebellion pit themselves against established climate activist groups.

The Green New Deal is another new buzzword, advertised through glitzy ad campaigns and supermodels. It is well known that funding NGOs such as Extinction Rebellion helps corporates mobilise people into backing a consensus created by them. Political leaders such as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States (US), whose plans amount to Climate Imperialism, will end up forcing debt onto poor countries to purchase US-manufactured climate tech.

These “clean” technologies demand large amounts of minerals, which are currently being mined from Third World countries in unsafe environmentally-hazardous conditions. This is social engineering under the guise of action against climate change. And Greta Thunberg is their figurehead.

Thunberg famously was invited to make a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos and what she said was replete with the talking points and keywords these organisations use. She later appeared on a video sponsored by the WEF, along with David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, who frequently espouse neo-Malthusian ideas such as blaming over-population for climate change—a debunked racist myth being revived in climate-mitigating talks. They also raise fears over migrants and climate refugees, which later popped up in banners during the Climate Strike. All this, when the average American’s annual carbon footprint is around 2,000 times that of a Chad resident, and the average Briton’s carbon dioxide footprint in a day matches that of a Kenyan in an year.

The WEF, composed of big capitalist firms from all over the world, recently announced a Strategic Partnership Framework with the UN—a move roundly criticised for weakening of the role of nations in global decision-making. Apart from the Paris Agreement, they have dipped their toes into collaborations with Bill Gates’ Mission Innovation to develop instruments for public-private investment in clean energy.

Their promotion of “nature-based” climate solutions got a big boost when Thunberg and George Monbiot ran a campaign endorsing it. The list of “allies” they mention include the main promoters of the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme as a carbon-trading mechanism, including The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and Nature4Climate.

The businesses which are planning to use these solutions to drive indigenous communities from their sources of livelihood and mint a seven-fold return on an annual investment of US$320 billion include Unilever, whose CEO is on the record that such climate action is the only way to grow the economy. No wonder, Shell has announced $300 million for it while burning fossil fuels. And the UN quietly complies.

Gone are the days when equity and common but differentiated responsibilities were integral to climate negotiations. Thunberg advocates that elected representatives “listen to the scientists”, but the background paper of the UN Climate Action Summit, United in Science, prepared by a “scientific advisory committee” abandoned any references to equity and common but differentiated responsibilities, thus placing the major burden of future mitigation on India and other developing countries.

The Climate Strike that led up to the Summit backed the call to declare a Climate Emergency, a move that could pave the way for governments to dig into public money to support green big business under the pretence of taking urgent action. Urgency has replaced equity as a basic element of climate action, poorer nations be damned.

It should not surprise that in all these plans, there is no talk about anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, the bedrock of the radical environmental movement. No understanding that the exploitation of labour and nature go hand in hand. No mention that the US military is the biggest institutional polluter, producing more greenhouse gas emissions than most countries on the planet. No denunciation of war, an inevitable corollary of Imperialism, as a significant cause of environmental damage. No account for the colonization of the atmospheric space that is needed for the use of fossil fuels for the development of the global South. No acknowledgement that the effects of climate change exacerbates already existing global inequality, and environmentalism itself delivers enhanced revenue streams for corporations under this system. No space for indigenous people who fought for the cause, nor people’s agreements on climate change (which they led) that recognised that what was needed was the end of capitalism.

Capitalism is “in danger of falling apart” and the bourgeoisie are here to save it. This is environmental activism brought to you by the captains of the industry. The ‘NGO-ization of resistance’ ensures that there is a manufactured consent for the ruling class agenda – the ‘unlocking’ of public money to finance huge capital investments. Class consciousness has been erased and the oppressed are made to identify with the oppressor. It is no different in India.

The people organising the protests claim most Indians lack awareness about the issue and that the only ones conscious are the middle and upper class elites. They hide the fact that the poor, organised by progressive and democratic mass movements, are fighting for some measures required for mitigation—provision of public transport, prioritising basic needs over luxuries, and radical redistribution of wealth. They forget that adivasis are at the forefront of the fight against capitalism and its destruction of the environment.

Thunberg was one of the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year. It did not happen. But there will be more of her and #ClimateStrike in the near future. “We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change,” says she, but what we see is capitalist “solutions” that demand our acquiescence. The rhetoric of the Left, of women’s empowerment, poverty-reduction, fighting inequality, rights of the disabled, and so on will all be used.

The  should not be distracted—it will not be long before imperialist attacks are sold under the name of the environment and, closer to home, authoritarianism is greenwashed. It is either Socialism or Climate Barbarism.

 

[Azhar Moideen is doing his Masters in Humanities at IIT Madras.]

Capitalising on Crisis: Extinction Rebellion and the Green New Deal for Capitalism

Capitalising on Crisis: Extinction Rebellion and the Green New Deal for Capitalism

Architects for Social Housing

October 10, 2019

By Simon Elmer

 

“‘Hey Pal! How do I get to town from here?’ And he said: ‘Well, just take a right where they’re gonna build that new shopping mall, go straight past where they’re gonna put in the freeway, take a left at what’s gonna be the new sports centre, and keep going until you hit the place where they’re thinking of building that drive-in bank. You can’t miss it.’ And I said: ‘This must be the place.’”

 

— Laurie Anderson

 

‘The climate crisis is a life-threatening symptom. But it is only a symptom. The disease is capitalism.’

 

— Maria Kadoglou

 

Extinction rebellion

Solutions to the Climate Emergency

One of ASH’s working principles is that the wrong solution to a problem is not ‘better than nothing’, as we are inevitably told by those proposing it; it is, in practice, worse than nothing. Not only does it consume funding, energy, time, political will and other resources that could and should be put towards the right solution, but the wrong solution deceives the public into believing that the correct solution has been found. How long did it take the public — and not just housing campaigners — to learn that ‘affordable housing’ was a euphemism for demolishing social housing and replacing it with a hodge-podge of shared-ownership scams, rent-to-buy products and higher rents with reduced rights? And even after 20 years of demolition, social cleansing and privatisation, politicians from all political parties are still able to argue that estate ‘regeneration’ is the answer to our crisis of housing affordability. Imagine what could have been achieved with the vast sums of public money thrown at subsidising affordable housing and market-sale properties at the point of both production and consumption. Enough, surely, to have refurbished every estate in England and Wales up to the Decent Homes Standard. Enough, perhaps, to have built however many new homes for social rent for which there is such overwhelming housing need. Instead, the enormous profits made by developers, builders, housing associations and investors have been publicly funded with Right to Buy, Help to Buy, Buy to Let, Affordable Housing subsidies and the privatisation of huge swathes of council- and government-owned land in the UK. So how do they get away with it?

The answer to that question is: the same way the propagandists of Neo-liberalism have got away with ten years of fiscal austerity that has cut public spending and workers’ wages while overseeing the exponential rise in the wealth of the richest. Or the same way we have committed to a never-ending War on Terror that has made the British people the legitimate target of terrorists for generations to come. They did it by declaring a ‘crisis’. Whether it’s the security crisis kicked off by the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001; or the sub-prime mortgage crisis in which 6 million people lost their houses in the USA alone; or the subsequent financial crisis in which UK banks were bailed out by the British taxpayer to the sum of £850 billion; or the housing crisis that ensued as global capital looked for a secure commodity in which to invest its profits: the discourse of crisis, of declarations of emergency, are always employed to push through increasingly repressive measures against the very people it is claiming to save while increasing the power and profits of the institutions and corporations nominated to impose them. We’re seeing the same thing happening right now with the increased surveillance, stop-and-search powers and punitive measures granted to the police and law courts in response to the ‘crisis’ of knife crime in the capital, while leaving the economic and social causes of that crime untouched.

So why should we expect anything different from the environmental crisis? Over the past year we’ve seen the rise of Extinction Rebellion, whose calls to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ have been adopted by Parliament if not yet by Government, by the Greater London Authority, by councils across London, and by architects across the UK. However, of the more than 600 architectural practices that have signed up to the recent manifesto, UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, many of the largest and most influential companies continue to promote, implement and financially profit from the estate demolition programme, including many of the founding signatories:

  • Adam Khan (Tower Court and Marian Court)

  • Alison Brooks (South Kilburn and South Acton estates)

  • Allies and Morrison (Heygate, Gascoigne, Acton Gardens and West Hendon estates)

  • David Chipperfield (Colville estate)

  • dRMM (Heygate estate)

  • Hawkins\Brown (Agar Grove, Bridge House, Aylesbury and Alton estates)

  • Haworth Tompkins (Robin Hood Gardens estate)

  • HTA Design (Ferrier, South Acton, Waltham Forest, Kender, Aylesbury, Ebury Bridge, Ravensbury, New Avenue and Clapham Park estates)

  • Levitt Bernstein (Aylesbury, Eastfields, Winstanley, York Road and Rayners Lane estates)

  • Maccreanor Lavington (Heygate and Alma estates)

  • Mae (Knight’s Walk, Agar Grove and Aylesbury estates)

  • Metropolitan Workshop (Leopold and Robin Hood Gardens estates)

  • Mikhail Riches (Goldsmith Street)

  • Pollard Thomas Edwards (Lefevre Walk, Packington, Alma, Thames View East and South Lambeth estates)

  • PRP (Crossways, Myatts Field North, Mardyke, Haggerston, Kingsland, Portobello Square and Central Hill estates)

  • Studio Egret West (Ferrier and Love Lane estates)
  • That’s just on the estate redevelopment schemes we’re aware of, and doesn’t include the deposit boxes for money laundering being designed along the Thames by such corporate architects as Foster + Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects. The only major estate-demolishing architectural practice notable by its absence from this list is Karakusevic Carson (Claredale, King’s Crescent, Bacton, Colville, Alma, Nightingale, Fenwick, St. Raphael, Joyce Avenue and Snell’s Park estates). Quite apart from the tens of thousands of residents socially cleansed from their homes by these and other schemes, it beggars belief that this catalogue of architectural practices colluding in the estate demolition programme are now trying to pass themselves off as defenders of our environment. Or rather, it would be if it wasn’t so glaringly apparent that this collective call for a ‘paradigm shift’ in the ‘behaviour’ of UK architects is a cynical example of ‘green-washing’.

    It’s no surprise, therefore, that the only mention in this manifesto about the environmental cost of demolition is watered down with the same get-out clause used on the 2017 Architects Code to ‘advise your client how best to conserve and enhance the quality of the environment and its natural resources . . . where appropriate.’ Although now declaring their intent to ‘upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build’, this is immediately qualified by the tacked-on caveat: ‘whenever there is a viable choice’. In this context, ‘viable’ means ‘financially viable’, which means after the developer has taken their 20-25 per cent profit according to a viability assessment produced by them that is not available for public scrutiny under the get-out clause of ‘commercial confidentiality’. Once again, therefore, the environment is being subordinated to the profit margins of developers and investors, in which it represents a slice of expenditure in capitalism’s pie.

    All this accords with Extinction Rebellion’s trenchant refusal to identify capitalism as the primary cause of our environmental situation. In the more than 5,000 words its website devotes to explaining ‘The Truth’ about climate change, not a single one of those words, incredibly, is ‘capitalism’. Despite the fact that, by its own admission, half of carbon dioxide emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1750 have been released since 1988, Extinction Rebellion has instead found a new culprit in the fashionable term ‘anthropocene’, which attributes the globe’s recent and rapidly increasing species extinction and climate change to the humanist, anthropological and a-historical abstraction called ‘man’. But then the leadership of Extinction Rebellion is composed of directors of non-governmental organisations and lobbyists for multinational energy companies, whose promotion of a ‘Green New Deal’ for capitalism — carefully erased of any reference to socialism — has been readily adopted by the Labour Party. Indeed, the Green New Deal’s 20,000-word report, published this October, on their proposed Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill mentions ‘capitalism’ only once, and even then qualifies it with the word ‘financialised’, as if the two can be separated. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the architects of ‘green architecture’, employed by the same political party to demolish around 190 council estates in London alone and replace them with supposedly ‘carbon-neutral’ properties for investment by global capital, find common ground with this recourse to that old chimera of liberals that many point to but few have seen: capitalism with a human face.

    One of the more cynical examples of the building industry capitalising on the ‘climate emergency’ is councils and other registered providers of social housing quoting the lower thermal performance of post-war estates when compared to new-build housing in order to justify demolishing the former, while ignoring the carbon cost of demolition. This is exactly what Leeds City council tried to do with the council homes on Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close, and the Cambridge Housing Society is doing to push through its plans to redevelop the Montreal Square estate; and yet neither local authority nor housing association has produced an impact assessment of the huge environmental costs of demolishing, removing, disposing of and replacing these perfectly serviceable homes.

    In contrast to this manipulative discourse of ‘crisis’ that seeks to retain and strengthen capitalism’s iron grip on the world, ASH proposes principles and practices of a socialist architecture that intervene in, oppose and propose alternatives to the capitalist cycle of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. It is within this economic cycle — which from an environmental perspective is the unsustainable cycle of extraction, construction, demolition and disposal — that the development process is entrenched by current housing legislation, policy and funding. Confronted with the ruinous and catastrophic consequences of this cycle — which began with the industrial revolution but continues to increase exponentially with the hegemony of global capitalism — promotions of a ‘green industrial revolution’ and the implementation of ‘green architecture’ are little more than window dressing to more false solutions in the service of expanded markets, corporate competition and the increasingly militarised struggle for dwindling natural resources.

    Rather than declarations of ‘climate emergency’ that serve to push through new capitalisations on the environmental crisis on a wave of orchestrated public feeling that silences public scrutiny under the newly imposed orthodoxies of climate activism, what we need is to remove all housing provision from the capitalist cycle of production. Within this cycle, the environment is accorded no more than a slice of the financial pie that is spent on the false solutions of so-called ‘green architecture’, in the same way that the social dimension of architecture is discharged by a portion of funding spent on the equally false solution of so-called ‘affordable housing’. But the environmental dimension of architecture, like its social, economic and political dimension, is not a component of a whole that is always, in current practice, subordinated to the profit margins of landlords, developers and investors. Rather, each dimension constitutes that whole — which today is that of an inhabitable planet. However much capitalism tries to separate them into portions of a financial viability assessment, in our social practice, in our economic growth, in our political policies, and in the environmental consequences these will have for us, they are indivisible. The answers to the planet’s climate change and species extinction cannot be separated from the social, economic and political system that is causing them. Any proposed solution that does not clearly identify global capitalism as their cause is the wrong solution.

    Forever in our Minds

    One of the lessons that emerged from the Grenfell Tower fire is that, following the Climate Change Act 2008, the retrofitting of social housing tower blocks with highly flammable, aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems like the one that caused the deaths of 72 people was widespread, and included at least 430 public-sector, high-rise residential buildings. Not only that, but over 320 private-sector, high-rise housing blocks had also been retrofitted with cladding. And that’s just the tower blocks, and the ones with ACM cladding systems similar to that on the Grenfell Tower. The total number of buildings in England and Wales that have been retrofitted with some form of cladding system is unknown, or at least not made public, but could run into the thousands, with one estimate that nearly 1,700 high-rise or high-risk buildings have been clad with combustible non-ACM materials.

    Why? Why was this vast programme of retrofitting carried out? The justification was that it would improve the thermal performance of these buildings, reduce the energy use of their occupants and residents, and therefore lower the carbon emissions from the functioning of these buildings, bringing them closer to the thermal performance of new buildings. In fact, from reading the planning application and other documents relating to the cladding of Grenfell Tower, the cladding was primarily cosmetic, on a tower that the council had originally decided to demolish and redevelop. However, after Kensington and Chelsea failed to find a private development partner following the financial crisis, it instead voted to cover Grenfell Tower explicitly in order to ameliorate the negative effect that post-war reinforced concrete council housing has on the latent value uplift in the land, and therefore on the property values of the high-cost market-sale houses the council planned to build in the surrounding area.

    It would be precipitous to generalise from this individual example of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment to every other cladding retrofit in England and Wales, even on the numerous council housing point blocks; but to accept the official reason for this programme at face value would be extraordinarily naive. More than that, it would be to close our eyes to the political dimension of housing in this country, the ongoing process of its demolition and privatisation, and the role of global investment in financing this process.

    But the other answer to this question of why so many buildings were retrofitted with cladding is: because of extensive and ongoing lobbying of government departments and ministers by the peddlers of so-called ‘green’ architecture, ‘green’ finance, ‘green’ industry and ‘green’ technology by multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations, think-tanks, developers, builders, estate agents, sub-contractors and manufacturers — by, in other words, the entire building industry and its associated hangers-on of financiers, investors and profiteers looking to capitalise on the climate crisis.

    The immediate result of this is that we now have around 24,800 homes in high-rise blocks that we know of, and probably far more, that are covered in ACM flammable cladding systems that circumvents the fire-safety of these buildings, that the owners of the buildings are refusing to pick up the bill for removing and replacing, that are putting the lives of over 60,000 residents at risk, that the government that privatised housing provision and deregulated building control, and that the councils that handed out the development contracts to the private development and management companies and stock-transferred the estates to housing associations, has turned its back on.

    This is all a matter of fact, established by the benefit of hindsight following the public attention on the disaster of the Grenfell Tower fire. Without that attention, few of us would be aware of this programme, or of the threat it presents to the safety of the thousands of residents living in buildings clad in flammable materials ostensibly applied to improve their thermal performance. And yet, when — with those responsible for the Grenfell Tower fire still not arrested let alone charged, when the public inquiry is not even addressing government responsibility for this programme of retrofitting, and when the police investigation into its causes is set to take at least another two years — some of us dare to voice our doubts about the same lobbyists, the same NGOs, the same think-tanks, the same companies and the same political parties now calling for a Green New Deal, a Green Industrial Revolution, ‘green’ architecture, ‘green’ finance and ‘green’ growth under a ‘green’ capitalism promoted by a sixteen year-old girl sailing round the world in a ‘green’ yacht, we are denounced and trolled as sexist, misogynist, anti-autistic, ageist, sectarian climate-change deniers — and all the other idiotic insults with which the blindly faithful respond to challenges to their beliefs.

    It does seem, contrary to the judgement of Abraham Lincoln, that you really can fool all the people all the time; but you’ll excuse those of us who would rather not be one of them if we retain our faculty for critical thinking, continue to be suspicious of everything politicians tell us, question what ends the spectacle of street protest is serving, and interrogate every solution proposed by capitalism to solve the latest crisis served up for public consumption. Grenfell should remain forever not just in our hearts, but also in our minds.

    Big Science

    One of the catchphrases repeated by Greta Thunberg is ‘Listen to the science!’ This is directed at politicians, above all, and is intended to oppose the truth of science to the lies of politics. However, science has always been linked to, and for over a century has been indivisible from, political power. The US military, in addition to being one of the greatest producers of carbon emissions in the world, is also one of the greatest funders and controllers of scientific research. Security services implementing ever more intrusive regimes of surveillance and policing both at home and abroad are another source of both funding and technological innovation, including artificial intelligence and robotics. And, of course, the extraction of resources and mechanisation of production by capitalisation is another driver, funder and user of the ‘truth’ of scientific research. Scientific truth, in other words, is profoundly political, and to assert otherwise is itself a political attempt to depoliticise the financial framework of scientific funding and the military, security and industrial uses of scientific research and its technological applications.

    This is most obviously the case when we ask to whose science Greta Thunberg is demanding we listen. The social scientists behind the orthodoxies of non-violent social change being imposed on environmental activists by Extinction Rebellion? The environmental scientists promoting ‘green growth’ based on massive mineral extraction from developing countries in the sights of Western imperialism? The economic scientists arguing for a Green New Deal for capitalism from which global finance has somehow been extracted like a cancerous growth rather than its circulatory system? The political scientists orchestrating the spectacle of street protest to publicise and promote policy demands into which protesters have no input? The popular scientists who manufacture and promote the discourse of ‘crisis’ that silences debate and denounces those who ask questions as ‘climate deniers’?

    Or these scientists? Antarsya UK, the Greek anti-capitalist, revolutionary, communist left and radical ecology front based in the UK, are one of the most interesting organisations I’ve come across this year. On 5 October they held a debate at SOAS titled ‘Are Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss reversible under Capitalism?’ You can listen to the presentations and ensuing debate on the recording above, and I recommend it to anyone interested in hearing the debates around the causes of, and solutions to, climate change. In response to the questions ASH has raised in response to the actions and declarations of Extinction Rebellion, all we’ve received in return from their followers so far is denunciations, insults and trolling alongside imperious demands for our own solutions to this ‘crisis’. In other words, the reaction has been no different from that ASH has received from publicising the Labour Party’s role in the estate demolition programme from the followers of Oh Jeremy Corbyn, who plays a similar role for Labour as Greta Thunberg does for Extinction Rebellion. However, although far from being experts on carbon emissions and climate change, ASH has published several articles on the environmental dimension of architecture, and in particular on the carbon costs of demolishing and redeveloping council estates; and, again, I recommend these to those still interested in listening to arguments and engaging in debate rather than policing the limits of what can and cannot be thought and said.

    As ASH maintains as a principle, and own interventions seek to practice, that the environmental dimension of architecture is indivisible from its social, economic and political dimensions. This is a principle of communist thought that the capitalists behind Extinction Rebellion have explicitly denied by describing their movement as ‘apolitical’, insisting that ‘no-one is to blame’ for the climate crisis, and refusing even to use the word ‘capitalism’ when identifying what its causes might be, let alone mention the word ‘socialism’ when proposing its solutions.

    If you’re interested in hearing about the social, economic and political dimension of climate change and the consequences of the solutions the organisations seeking to capitalise on this crisis are proposing, listen to the scientists in this debate: Elia Apostolopoulou from the University of Cambridge, whose research is on nature-society relationships in capitalism with an emphasis on the political ecology of nature conservation and urban political ecology; Gareth Dale from Brunel University, whose research is on the growth paradigm and the political economy of the environment, particularly climate change; and Maria Kadoglou from ‘Anti-Gold Greece’, whose research is on the impact of the large-scale metal mining required for so much so-called ‘green’ energy and technology. From listening to their presentations I wouldn’t say they share a single position — and with Gareth Dale being a staunch Corbynite I have to wonder whether he’s aware of merely the carbon costs of his party’s estate demolition programme; but they’ll tell you a very different story to the one that’s being written by the social, environmental, economic, political and political scientists imposing the orthodoxies of thinking and action being orchestrated under the umbrella of Extinction Rebellion.

    Greenwashing (some examples)

    Green washing

    The Central Hill Estate

    Built between 1966 and 1974, the Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace contains 476 dwellings that are home to around 1,200 residents. In 2016, against the wishes of 77 per cent of residents, the estate was condemned to demolition by Lambeth Labour council, and is awaiting redevelopment by Homes for Lambeth, a council-owned commercial venture financed by private investment partners. The redevelopment scheme will result in the permanent loss of 340 secure council tenancy homes for social rent in a borough with 28,000 people on the housing waiting list.

    In 2016 ASH commissioned a report from the green engineers, Model Environments, on the Embodied Carbon Estimation for Central Hill Estate. This contains the following findings:

  • ‘The office of the London Mayor has set a target to reduce London’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 60% based on 1990 levels by 2025. Homes are responsible for 36% of London’s CO2.’

  • ‘The concrete industry is one of the world’s two largest producers of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. About half of the emissions come directly from the heating of limestone in its manufacture, and around 40% are emissions associated with burning fuel.’

  • ‘A significant fraction of the carbon emissions a building will make over its lifetime is locked into the fabric by the time the building is constructed. As improvements in efficiency reduce carbon emissions from energy in the operational phase, increasing attention is being given to the issue of embodied carbon, examination of which can provide cost-effective carbon savings.’

  • ‘When a building is demolished, there are carbon emissions from the energy used in the deconstruction, removal and disposal of the waste. There may also be CO2 emissions released by chemical processes as the building fabric is broken up.’

  • ‘The vast majority of the embodied carbon is sequestered within the building fabric itself. The carbon emissions released by any deconstruction of the buildings is 40 times greater than the emissions from the energy needed to carry out the demolition.’

  • ‘Demolishing a housing estate of some 450 homes will exact a high carbon price on the environment and detracts greatly from the London Borough of Lambeth’s contribution to tackling climate change.’

  • ‘A conservative estimate for the embodied carbon of Central Hill estate would be around 7000 tonnes of CO2. Those are similar emissions to those from heating 600 detached homes for a year using electric heating, or the emissions savings made by the London Mayor’s retrofitting scheme in a year and a quarter.’

  • ‘For the demolition phase a conservative estimate of 3 months (480 hours) with 4 excavators using 30 litres of diesel per hour equals 57,600 litres. A conversion factor of 2.68kg of CO2e per litre of diesel suggests a figure of approximately 154 tonnes of CO2.’

  • ‘Annual domestic emissions per capita in Lambeth were 1.8 tonnes in 2012. Therefore, the emissions associated with the demolition of Central Hill estate equate to the annual emissions of over 4,000 Lambeth residents.’

  • ‘Other environmental impacts from the demolition such as air pollution and water pollution should also be considered in further studies.’
  • In January 2019 Lambeth Labour council declared a ‘climate emergency’ and brought forward its ‘target for becoming carbon neutral to 2030’. In July, Green Party councillors introduced a motion that quoted this report by Model Environments as an example of the kind of impact assessment Lambeth council should produce before making the decision to demolish any estate. In response, Lambeth Labour council redacted all reference to the report and its impact for its estate demolition programme from the motion as follows:

    While no fixed plan for their redevelopment of Central Hill estate has as yet been published, in order to recoup the costs of demolition, compensation for leaseholders and the replacement of the demolished homes, at least 50 per cent of the new-build properties will have to be for market sale, with the remainder a mix of affordable housing. As usual, the majority of these will be shared ownership properties, with the rest a mix of rent-to-buy products and so-called affordable rent. One proposal by PRP Architects, Lambeth’s favoured practice for masterplanning estate demolitions, increased the housing capacity to 1,530 properties, over a thousand of which would be for market sale and rent. PRP, which has also colluded in the demolition and redevelopment of the Crossways, Myatts Field North, Mardyke, Haggerston, Kingsland and Portobello Square estates, is one of the signatories to UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, which commits them to:

  • ‘Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.

  • ‘Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this.

  • ‘Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.

  • ‘Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice.

  • ‘Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.

  • ‘Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail.’
  • The Aylesbury Estate

    The ‘regeneration’ of the Aylesbury estate in Camberwell was initiated by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997. From its completion just 20 years earlier, the Aylesbury has provided 2,758 homes for around 7,500 residents. Since 2004, however, it has gradually been decanted of residents and their homes demolished by Southwark Labour council. It is currently awaiting redevelopment by the newly-merged Notting Hill Genesis Housing Association, whose proposals will result in the loss of 778 homes for social rent in an Inner London borough with 11,000 households on the housing waiting list.

    In 2017 two architects, Mike Kane and Ron Yee, published an article in the Journal of Green Building in which they estimated the carbon cost of demolishing and removing one of the Aylesbury estate’s slab blocks. At fourteen storeys high and over 200m long, Chiltern House is only 1 of 7 super-scale slab blocks on the Aylesbury estate. With 172 flats, it contains 6 per cent of the Aylesbury estate’s residential units, but less than that of its entire structure, with communal facilities, housing offices, schools, playgrounds, sports facilities, car parks, garages and other amenities contributing to the total built environment. This is what they write:

  • ‘The carbon cost of constructing Chiltern House was extremely high. The reinforced concrete structural frame (excluding partition walls and internal elements) is estimated to weigh in excess of 20,000 tonnes, which equates to approximately 1,800 tonnes of emitted CO2 for the concrete alone.

  • ‘This figure is significantly increased with the remainder of the construction process and transport emissions. Demolition of Chiltern House would require in the region of 800-plus HGV truck journeys through London’s congested streets, and the use of heavy demolition machinery will greatly add to the figure again.

  • Clearly, the CO2emission cost of reaching just the cleared site (after only 40 years of housing use) is very high. Moreover, if the replacement building is of conventional construction (with only 30-year warranty), then the overall environmental cost of providing additional homes is enormous.’
  • On the 16 April 2019, Southwark Labour council ‘reinforced its commitment to combatting carbon emissions and rising global temperatures by joining the international Climate Change Campaign and declaring a Climate Change Emergency.’ Architectural practices colluding in the demolition and redevelopment of the Aylesbury estate include HTA Design, Hawkins/Brown, Levitt Bernstein and Mae, all of whom have signed up to the UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.

    Tell the Truth

    Robin Hood Gardens estate

    Robin Hood Gardens estate

    Heygate estate

    Heygate estate

    Central Hill estate

    Central Hill estate

    Aylesbury estate

    Aylesbury estate

    Albert Embankment Plaza

    Albert Embankment Plaza

    Central London

    Central London

     

    P.S. The socialism of the 20th Century was taken up in countries that had in mosty cases not undergone, or had only partially undergone, industrialisation. And it was expanded massively after the Second World War, when large swathes of Europe and South-East Asia required rebuilding and rehousing. Under those conditions, the environmental impact of construction was barely considered, and so socialism became equated with massive industrialisation. Socialism is, by definition, an economic and social system serving the needs of all members of society equally; so a socialism of today — as we are seeing in Cuba — must be one that addresses climate change. Socialism is not founded, as liberal environmentalists argue, on perpetual growth. That’s capitalism, which is structurally committed to infinite growth through the consumption of the world’s finite resources. No promises of a capitalism without ‘financialisation’ will change that, which is what the promoters of the Green New Deal are suggesting.

    It should be clear by now that only an economy ordered under socialist principles can even hope to reverse the environmental damage capitalism has done. Unfortunately — and partly thanks to Extinction Rebellion’s promotion of a Green New Deal for capitalism and its refusal to consider socialist solutions — it isn’t. If Extinction Rebellion has a role to play in raising awareness of the seriousness and imminence of the threat to our environment, the first thing it needs to do is identify the causes of its deterioration, and the second is to propose solutions based in a socialist re-ordering of the economy. It’s done neither.

    I can well believe that Extinction Rebellion started with a radical and even revolutionary programme, but exactly as happened with the housing movement of 2015 before it was taken over by the Labour Party under Oh Jeremy Corbyn, it is now being used in the service of an expanded capitalism, the social, environmental and economic costs of which are there for everyone with eyes to see. Protest is not an end in itself. What’s important is what ends it serves. That’s very hard to control, and the entire edifice of Neo-liberal capitalism is working to control what those are in the UK; but denouncing anyone who questions those ends is not the way to go about it.

    Why can’t you just feel good about the fact that XR and Greta Thunberg make you feel good? Why do you have to denounce those whom XR and Greta Thunberg don’t make feel good as ‘part of the problem’? Since ‘feeling good’ appears to be a lot of XR supporter’s motivations, why do you feel this overwhelming need to repeatedly dismiss those of us who apply other criteria to XR, such as reading their policies? I’m glad you’re feeling good, but do your feelings have to be dependent on demonising anyone who doesn’t share that feeling? And if they are, doesn’t that make those feelings religious feelings, responding to all the usual emotional, messianic, apocalyptic slush employed by the Church to deceive its flock? Isn’t it about time you and other followers stopped the hymn-singing, the self-flaggelating, the shaming and donating, and read XR’s Bible to find out exactly who is on their stairway to heaven?

    To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

    To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

    Greanville Post

    October 16, 2019

    “To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough”

    By Rainer Shea

     

     

    As I’ve watched young people around the world take part in the climate actions of the last month, I’ve gotten the sense that I’m watching a spectacle which has been orchestrated to create the illusion that we’re still in an earlier, more stable time for the planet’s climate. Legitimate as the passion and commitment of this generation of teen climate activists is, their efforts are being packaged by the political and media establishment in a way that encourages denial about our true situation. These ruling institutions neither want us to recognize the real solutions to the crisis, nor do they want us to see the irrecoverable and massive damage that’s already been done to the climate. We’re told that if we restructure capitalism with the help of the “green” corporations and NGOs that are backing Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, a catastrophic outcome can be prevented. Supposedly radical politicians like Bernie Sanders promise that by making an appeal for corporations to partially reduce emissions within a capitalist framework, we can save the world. People want to believe the claims of these “green” capitalists because they want to believe that our living arrangements won’t fundamentally need to change in order for humanity to survive.

     

    Sustainable Brands website, August 30, 2019 [Source] [Extinction Rebellion website]

    These sources of false hope let Western capitalist society continue to ignore the primary role that imperialism and militarism have in the climate crisis, to view the capitalist governments as legitimate, and to not try to break away from the philosophy of capitalism and endless growth. The lifestyle tweaks that we’re told will save the planet—eating less meat, carpooling, flicking off the light when you leave the room—won’t be able to solve the problem even if society were to largely adopt them. The climate solutions that the capitalists present to us are designed to make us feel better while we keep letting the system move us closer to apocalypse.

    To survive, we must recognize two truths about this crisis: that it’s no longer possible to avert a substantial catastrophe, and that global capitalism must be toppled in order for the human race to have a future. Once we understand the former fact, it becomes easy to accept the latter.

    When you examine the state of the world, it’s not hard to see that something needs to drastically change. Extreme inequality amid neoliberal policies and rampant corporate power has made the Western countries in many ways part of the so-called Third World. As American power declines, the imperialist wars are continuing and tensions between the most powerful countries are escalating. Another global recession looms at the same time as a stable and comfortable life has become impossible even for most Americans to attain. Refugees are fleeing the worst dangers in their home countries, and are being met with inhumane treatment by the reactionary governments of the core imperialist nations. All of these capitalist crises are intertwined with the climate collapse that’s threatening the foundations of civilization.

    The goals of the Paris climate agreement, which require reducing emissions by around 45 percent before 2030 so as to avoid a 1.5 degree Celsius warming, most definitely aren’t going to be met. Global greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high in 2018, indicating that we’ll be at 1.5 by 2030. The climate feedback loop will quickly turn this into 2 degrees in the following years, which will turn into somewhere between 3 and 5 degrees by 2100. It’s estimated that with just 2 degrees of warming, sea level rise will engulf 280 million people, earthquakes will kill 17 million, and over 200 million will die from droughts and famine.

    Just ten years from now, this transition will be far enough along that the basic structures of capitalist society will no longer be stable. In June, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights issued a report which said that more than 120 million people could be forced into poverty by 2030 due to the destroyed property and resource scarcity that climate change-related disasters will cause. In response, more social services will be cut, society will become more militarized, and more immigrants will be deported, imprisoned, or left to die in disease-riddled concentration camps.

    Such cruelties against the victims of climate change are realistic, and are all already being carried out because in a world that’s falling to pieces, the feeling of desperation drives a survival instinct that makes people devalue the lives of their fellow human beings. Capitalism, with its fixation on competition, is a key driver behind this impulse to exclude and eliminate the immigrants who seek to share in the West’s relative stability. This is why Philip Alston, the author of the U.N.’s June report, said that barring radical systemic change, “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

    As the warming continues, increasing food and water scarcity, flooding, deadly heat waves, epidemics, and inequality will set off wars and civil unrest. Where stable states still exist, the prevailing paradigm will range from heightened government vigilance to outright martial law. Otherwise, borders will become less clearly defined and the existing governments will lose their power, making for a global version of the Middle East in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Syria. The vacuum will be filled with militant groups. In the Arab world these new monopolies on violence have been ISIS and Al Qaeda, and in North America they could easily become white supremacist paramilitaries.

    None of this can be prevented by voting for Democrats, or changing one’s personal lifestyle, or participating in climate demonstrations that are sanctioned by the corporatocracy. The momentum of the climate’s destabilization is unstoppable, and the fascistic political forces that have emerged amid the crisis aren’t going away. However, my message with this essay isn’t to become apathetic in the face of what’s happening to us, but to embrace a worldview of realism that allows us to actually combat the problem.

    We in the Western world must take guidance from the colonized people who are struggling for their liberation from imperial control and the capitalist carbon economy. Our goal should be not to reform capitalism, but to overthrow the capitalist centers of government and replace them with ecosocialist power structures. This is what the Chavistas are trying to do in Venezuela, which is moving towards an ecosocialist revolution where the country weans itself off from dependence on oil markets. Bolivia, whose socialist president Evo Morales has given the environment legal protections that are equivalent to human rights, provides further inspiration for the new systems that we’re capable of building.


    The path to taking over the power of the state and seizing the means of production, as the socialists in these countries are trying to do, requires building mass movements that aren’t co-opted by the influence of the capitalist class. Our objectives need to be unambiguous: an end to capitalism and an end to all forms of imperialism, which entails decolonization.

    The people of Venezuela and Bolivia are lucky to have been able to use electoral means to install a government that attempts to pursue these goals. In the U.S., where electoral politics are rigged against third parties and a deadly police state has been created, freedom will only be gained by working to usurp the authority of the capitalist state. India’s Maoist gurriellas (or the Naxalites) are doing this by taking territory away from their region’s government, as are Mexico’s communist Zapatistas. These groups are building strongholds for the larger movements to take down capitalism, which gain greater potential for victory the more that capitalism’s crises escalate; capitalist regimes that are under threat of being overthrown can already be found in Haiti and Honduras, whose U.S.-backed governments may well soon be ousted through sustained proletarian rebellions.

    To replicate these liberation movements worldwide, we must stop denying the extremity of the crisis and fight capitalism with the knowledge that we’re fighting for our survival. To commit to their battle against India’s corporate-controlled government, the Naxalites have had to experience the desperation of living in a severely impoverished underclass that’s increasingly suffering from water shortages amid the climate crisis. We Westerners can’t be kept complacent by the fact that our conditions are marginally better than theirs.

    In the coming years, we’re not going to be living out a scenario where capitalism changes itself into something sustainable. We’re counting down to the collapse of civilization’s current configuration and, in my view, all that can save us now is the construction of a new ecosocialist civilization in its place.

     

    [Rainer Shea uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch]

    The New Suits of Capitalist Developmentalism: The New Green Period of Capitalism and its Ecological and Citizen Avant-garde

    The New Suits of Capitalist Developmentalism: The New Green Period of Capitalism and its Ecological and Citizen Avant-garde

    Kaosenlared

    May 21, 2019

    By Miquel Amorós

     

    [*Translated from Spanish to English via DeepL translator – Original version in Spanish here.]

     

    The new green period of capitalism and its ecological and citizen avant-garde.

    10 Eco-Friendly Luxury Fashion Brands – Armani [Source]


    The capitalist world is debating in an unprecedented ecological crisis that threatens its continuity as a system based on the pursuit of private profit. From the pollution of air, water and soil to the accumulation of waste and rubbish; from the depletion of natural resources to the extinction of species; from the urbanizing tide to climate change; it seems that a sword of Damocles hangs over the market society. Leaders from all spheres of activity are concerned about unstoppable environmental degradation, including a reorganization of production and consumption according to inevitable ecological imperatives. Many people are convinced that the capitalist system of exploitation cannot be maintained in any other way. The contradiction between growth (the accumulation of capital) and its destructive effects (the ecological disaster), will have to be overcome with a compromise between industry and nature, or better between their respective spectacular representation: on the one hand, the high executives and on the other, the patented ecologists. We are entering a new period of capitalism, the “green” stage, where new gadgets and technological systems – “renewable” energy plants, electric cars, GMOs, big data, 5G networks, etc. – will try to harmonize economic development with the territory and the resources it contains, thus facilitating “sustainable” growth and making the current, motorized and consumerist way of life compatible with the natural environment, or better yet, with what remains of it.

    Xiuhtezcatl Martinez – Barneys The Window. Photographed by Roe Ethridge / Styled by Brian Molloy / BOGLIOLI K2 Wool Hopsack Two-Button Suit / COMME DES GARÇONS PLAY Men’s Chuck Taylor 1970’s High-Top Sneakers [Source: Barneys New York]

    The “energy transition” is but one aspect of the “economic transition” towards ecocapitalism, which, starting from the wild (neoliberal) incorporation of nature into the market, now reaches a phase where mercantilization will be regulated by corporate and state mechanisms. It is an industrial, financial and political operation of great importance that is going to change everything so that nothing changes, so that everything remains the same.The new technologies introduced after 1945, in the postwar period, (manufacture of cements, fertilizers, additives and detergents, more powerful engines, additives, thermal power stations, “atoms for peace”, etc.) were the factors that triggered the plundering of resources, the emission of pollutants and metropolitanization, exponentially increasing the power of transnational corporations. The economic growth became a destructive element of first order, but also, in the major cause of social stabilization, of a much greater efficiency than the unions or the workers parties. Consequently, developmentalism came to shape the policies of all kinds of governments. Employment was the worker’s only means of gaining the status of consumer, motorist and inhabitant of the periphery, so that the creation of jobs then became the primary objective of the “political class”, both right-wing and left-wing. The immediate interests of the wage-earning masses integrated in the market were aligned with those of the businessmen and the parties, to the point of firmly opposing any ecological corrective that endangered growth and, consequently, jobs. Ultimately, “dying of cancer is preferable to dying of starvation,” as some said. Unfortunately, workers have been strong supporters of business continuity, urbanization and parliamentarism, not caring about the negative impact this could have on their environment, their freedom or their lives. That is why the ecological conscience has crystallized almost exclusively in sectors that are inactive or almost so, such as academics, neo-rurals, precarious, students or pensioners. The fight against noxiousness has before it a social barrier that is difficult to overcome as long as the defence of the workplace is a priority for the majority of the population; if the contradiction is not overcome, the defence of the institutions will take precedence over the defence of the territory and the autonomy of the struggles.It is up to the state to channel the protests, encourage the formation of a pragmatic ecological elite and pave the way for the new green capitalism, if necessary by promulgating a “climate alarm state”.

    Faced with a politically and socially blocked situation, the international ruling class takes the initiative by trying to direct the long march of the techno-industrial economy towards profitable “sustainability” for its own benefit and without real opposition, either by eliminating old jobs, or by creating new ones. The destruction continues and even increases, but it is certainly about saving capitalism, not the planet. Extractive ecology produces profits even in the short term; however, markets are not strong enough to initiate a process of “green” reconversion, nor are technological innovations alone, in view of which the first steps depend largely on the State. It is up to the state to channel the protests, encourage the formation of a pragmatic ecological elite and pave the way for the new green capitalism, if necessary by promulgating a “climate alarm state”. As a result, the ecological crisis – which today is presented as a climate issue – becomes trivially political. Meanwhile, the environmental movement is infiltrated by agents of the multinationals and bought with funds of various origins, resulting in a political network of influences at the service of a new kind of capitalism. The same thing happened with the NGOs. At that moment, the purge of extremisms is necessary for the transformation of the green party of decomposition into an instrument of the dominant order. The message of moderation obedient to the little belligerent slogans would not reach the manipulable masses if the anti-system “fundamentalists” were not isolated as soon as possible, or as the informal hierarchies of ecologism-spectacle say, “bridged”.

    Targeted demographics – Promotional illustrations/video for Green New Deal

    The movement against climate change has given rise to a registered “brand”, Extinction/Rebellion, which covers the environmentalist flank of left-wing citizenry, giving it arguments in favour of state mediation of the crisis. Those who appeal to the state certainly cannot be branded as “radicals,” since while they are against “extinction,” they are not against capital. Nor against any concrete responsible; one of its principles reads as follows: “we avoid accusing and pointing at people, because we live in a toxic system”. No concrete individual (no leader) can be considered guilty of anything. For a climbing mentality, not all leaders, not all capitalists, are equal, and ecological reforms can even be beneficial to the majority. They are potential allies and benefactors. Thus, the declared objectives of eco-citizenship do not go that way. They limit themselves to pressuring governments to force them to “tell the truth to the citizens”, to take “decarbonizing” measures foreseen in the “energy transition” and to decree the creation of “supervising citizen assemblies”, true political springboards for the arrivists. Their weapon: the non-violent mobilization of 3.5% of the “citizens”. No revolutions, because they imply violence and do not respect “democracy”, that is, the system of parties and ranks. They do not want to put an end to the capitalist regime, they want to transform it, making it “circular” and “carbon neutral”. We will not overlook the fact that the majority of waste is irrecyclable and that the production of “clean” energies implies the consumption of enormous quantities of fossil fuels. The professionals of citizen ecology do not want to destroy the State either, the great tree under whose shadow their personal careers thrive and their placement strategies work. The ecological crisis is reduced by this captive ecologism to a political problem that can be solved by the heights thanks to a Roosevelt-style Green New Deal: a new pact for the global economy between the world’s ruling class, the political bureaucracy and its environmental advisors that imposes measures for the reduction of polluting emissions and the storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide that the multiple conferences on climate change have failed to impose. Something extremely suspicious, like everything that comes from the system. The “dual” citizen strategies are “symbiotic”, not ruptured. Ecosystems would be restored by harmonizing conflicting interests from within. Duality consists precisely in collaborating (acting in symbiosis) with the institutions on the one hand, and mobilizing the catastrophe-sensitive masses on the other. However, the mobilizations are nothing more than a spectacular display of purely symbolic support. They do not aspire to much, as they do not question the status quo, not saying a word about the symbiosis of governments to those who are pressured by markets, growth or globalisation.

    It has been proven that since the Johannesburg summit in 2002, if not before, the capitalist world is aware that its uncontrolled functioning produces such a level of destruction that it is in danger of collapsing. It is more than evident that despite the resistance to regulation by countries whose stability and influence depend on hard extractivism or unhindered development, capitalism as a whole has entered a green developmental phase and is trying to establish controls (Agenda 21, creation of the Green Climate Fund, fifth IPCC report, Paris Agreement, the 24 different COPs). This explains the epidemic of realism and opportunism that has taken over the ecological media “in action” to the point of provoking an avalanche of demands for employment in the political-administrative field. The militants do not want to close their doors, especially when there is a good remuneration, so that all the ideals are kept in their pockets. In truth, it is not only the capitalists who would benefit from a state of alarm. The new subsidized ecologism follows in the wake of “green” developmentism based on “renewable” industrial energies, and sustains the alarmist leaders of capitalism against the negationists. All their efforts are devoted to adjusting the industrial and consumerist way of life with the preservation of the natural environment, despite the fact that the results have not been flattering until today: greenhouse gas emissions, far from being reduced as established by international agreements, have reached record figures. With the optimism of a newly enlightened novice, they want economic growth, necessary for the survival of capitalism, and the territory, necessary for the conservation of biodiversity, at least in appearance, to be marvelous, no matter how much the global temperature continues to rise and the climate is degrading. Incomparable advantages of the symbiotic method and the reformist narrative!


    Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War, Neta C. Crawford, Boston University, June 12, 2019

    Those responsible for global warming and pollution, and those responsible for precariousness and exclusion are the same, but those who fight them are often not. They are two battlefields, the one of imbalance and the one of inequality, which do not finish converging and not because a cohort of vocational bureaucrats appears under the stones, trying to carve out a future for themselves by acting as an intermediary. Aspiring leaders have their days numbered because ordinary people lose their meekness when their means of subsistence are affected and they no longer allow themselves to be domesticated with the ease of days of abundance in less aggressive climates. The weakness of world-capital lies not in the climate, not even in health, but in supplies. The day when the techno-industrial system – either from the markets, or from the State – stops satisfying the needs of a large part of the population, or in other words, when due to the climate or any other factor the supply fails, the era of insurrections will come. A failed system that hinders the mobility of its subjects and puts them in immediate danger of starvation is a corpse system. It is probable that in the heat of the protest, community structures will be recomposed, fundamental to ensure the autonomy of the revolts. If civil society succeeds in organizing itself on the margins of institutions and bureaucracies, then ecological struggles will converge with wage struggles, as reflected in the praxis of a unified social conscience. And that slogan heard in the French rebellion of the “yellow vests”: “end of the month, end of the world” will reveal all its meaning.

    Miguel Amorós


    Talks on 12 May 2019 at the book exchange fair in L’Orxa (Alicante) and on 18 May at the Biblioteca Social El Rebrot Bord, Albaida (Valencia).

    The Climate Movement: What Next?

    Clive L. Spash: Social, Ecological Economics

    May 2019

    By Clive L. Spash

     

    Joan Wong illustration for Foreign Policy [Source: Why Growth Can’t Be Green]

     

    *Invited Comment for the Tellus Foundation [Note: This short commentary was written as a contribution to a Great Transition (Tellus Institute)roundtable discussion focused on the climate movement that started with an invited statement from Bill McKibben. The focus was on three questions: What is the climate movement’s state of play? System change, not climate change? Do we need a meta-movement?]

     

    A CAPTURED ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT?

    The climate movement, like all environmental NGOs, has been subject to the influence of neoliberalism and corporate capture. Neo-liberals love to attack government while totally ignoring the corporate control of the economy. In the USA the extent of government capture is just ignored (from the President down and not just the most recent President either). There is a general failure to link the social and economic to the ecological. Political analysis is lacking, social theory is absent and there are a dearth of substantive ideas as to alternative economies from the existing paradigms of economic growth and price-making markets.

    Hence the climate movement promotes price incentives (taxes, carbon trading), innovation and new technologies, commodification of Nature (ecosystems as goods and services, natural capital), offsetting losses of biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions, and new quantitative measures of growth as progress.

    TECHNO-OPTIMIST CAPITALISM, GREEN GROWTH AND GREEN NEW DEALS

    Cutting past the personal anecdotes, Bill McKibben’s GT piece appears to promote systemic change, but does it really? The piece includes the following:

    • “the divestment movement […] with commitments from endowments and other portfolios worth about $8 trillion”
    • “Seventy-five years from now, we will run the world on sun and wind because they’re free.” [unlike coal, gas and oil?]
    • “we can’t make change happen fast enough”
    • “student Climate Strikes now underway thanks to the inspiration of Sweden’s Greta Thunberg”
    • “the incredibly exciting fight for a Green New Deal”
    • “If we replace fossil fuels with sun and wind, the effect will inevitably lead to at least some erosion of the current power structure.”
    • “There will be solar billionaires”
    • “The extremely rapid fall in the price of renewable energy and electric storage is one indication that the necessary conditions for rapid change are now in place.”

    The aim is for a large shift in financing towards new energy sources, which is basically the mainstream (neoclassical) economic argument that substitutes exist and the price mechanism will supply them. This relies on the belief that price mechanisms send the right signals and actually reflect resource costs rather than being determined by power relations, rules and regulations, subsidies and public infrastructure. If its cheap it must be good. There is little or no connection to politics, resource extractivism or biophysical limits (e.g., on the resources required for electric technologies), nor the need for demand control rather than supply increase. Technology will save us, markets work and there will be ‘free’ electricity for all.

    The mythical innovative capitalist entrepreneur of neo-Austrian economics and neoliberal ideology appears to be lurking in the background of such claims. The Green New Deal is similar, subject to being hi-jacked by the entrepreneurial ‘billionaires’. In the USA special rules are proposed to take the trillions outside political process to be placed into the hands of a ‘special committee’, and you can expect the standard vested interests behind the scenes. The French regulation school describe how capitalism has historically adapted in response to the crises it creates; enabling with changes in the controlling minority but maintaining a power bloc that rules over the majority. Karl Polanyi, long ago, noted the way in which crises leads to social payback (e.g., ‘new deals’) to prevent total breakdown, civil unrest and potential rebellion. When that fails it uses authoritarian force, as seen with securitisation and the rise of the political right.

    Contrary to McKibben’s claim, there is nothing in the ‘new technologies’ that inevitably changes the political and economic power relationships. Indeed, the trillions being requested are for investment in the growth of the economy via increased ‘green’ industrial energy and market product supply. What stops the money going to the B-Team (that Hans Baer mentions)? Where are the new institutions to prevent funds being funnelled through the usual financial channels and into the hands of the existing power players? Technology does not create institutions, it requires them!

    The existing institutions of modern economies are those supporting economic growth. The growth priority has been made clear by the over 3500 economists supporting a climate tax and opposing structural change. Similarly, Lord Stern is the academic figure head of the New Climate Economy, a concept created by members of the Davos elite, with its ‘Better Growth, Better Climate’ reports. Their explicitly stated concern is that: “In the long term, if climate change is not tackled, growth itself will be at risk.” Change is coming and the corporations and billionaires are fully aware of this. They have been actively lobbying on climate and environment since Johannesburg (Earth Summit 2002) and were a dominant force at Paris. They have also long been seeking to control the environmental movement for their own ends.

    The ‘smart’ money already supports Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg. Greta is lauded and praised, hosted by the international and Davos elite, and they hope can be used to help spring the trillions of funding. She can expect prizes and awards, as long as she plays the game. Ask yourself how a child is suddenly propelled into the international media limelight and given access to the most powerful people on the planet, and then ask yourself why? Why was she not just ignored like all the protesters saying exactly the same things for decades?

    Clearly, as a new superstar environmentalist, a single person, she is useful to circumvent other organisations; useful as long as she attacks the right people (e.g. politicians, ‘government’) as the wrong doers (diverting attention from corporations), and supports funding of the ‘New Economy’ based on innovation, technology, new markets and economic growth. Media can downplay and cut anything critical of the system and the growth economy and report only what serves financial interests. If she turns ‘political’, expect her to be dropped like a hot potato.

    Extinction Rebellion (XR) is similarly useful. It claims no political agenda, which is obviously a disingenuous, if not fraudulent, claim. They are engaged in a power struggle, but on whose behalf? Pushing a ‘climate emergency’ that seeks trillions for whom and under what political process of allocation? Claiming the need for a ‘civic forum’, but representative of whom and to endorse what? The honest concern and sincerity of individuals joining XR does not have to be questioned any more than that of Greta. However, there are clearly political games going on here of which its members appear almost willfully ignorant. Who is Extinction Rebellion opposing and where is their political analysis of the power structure that needs to change? What exactly is the change they are seeking? Rebelling against extinction not corporate and state capitalism!?

    What is happening right now appears to be a classic case of a passive revolution. When hegemonic power is threatened it captures the movement leaders and neutralises them by bringing them into the power circles and takes the initiative away from radical revolutionary change. In addition, the aim is to split movements and their demands by separating the pragmatic from the radical, forming new alliances with the pragmatic wings and thereby incorporating radical movement language with their own ‘pragmatic’ demands. The threatened elites create captured movements and leaders, adopting the language of the rebels and claiming to address their concerns. Those joining them can claim to be more ‘pragmatic’ because they are connected to the powerful and see how to save the system. None of this is any different from the decades of NGO capture and new environmental pragmatism, but the latest moves are more overt because the stakes are getting higher.

    WHAT NEXT?

    The climate movement runs along a knife edge between re-establishing another phase of competitive economic growth, and making radical economic and political reform a reality through social ecological transformation. The current thrust is to the former and will remain so as long as the potential forces for change operate via corporations and remain committed to productivism, equitable materialism and nationalism. The climate movement is a real threat to powerful elites and that is exactly why it is being infiltrated and invited to have ‘a seat at the table’. Climate change has been and is being used to wipe off the agenda all other environmental issues and to impose singular ‘solutions’ to systemic problems.

    Any ENGO, like any economists, that claims to be free of politics is either totally naïve or totally untrustworthy, and possibly both. Can the Green New Deal be made into a degrowth/post-growth deal which is not controlled by an elite? Can the well-meaning environmentalists campaigning for neoliberal solutions, and going to prison for the wrong reasons, be educated about corporate manipulation and political power?

    Activism and academia need to be integrated far more. Solidarity could start with seeking some common understanding of the structure of the political and economic system. Connecting that understanding to biophysical reality also means deconstructing the growth economy not re-establishing it as ‘Green’ based on mythical free energy sources and the benevolence of billionaires.

    Yours,
    Clive L. Spash
    6th May, 2019, Vienna

     

    [Clive L. Spash is an ecological economist. He currently holds the Chair of Public Policy and Governance at Vienna University of Economics and Business, appointed in 2010. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Environmental Values. He has been working on climate change as an economist since the late 80s and engage on environmental issues since 70s. His personal website is https://www.clivespash.org/]

     

    Greta Thunberg, PR and the “Climate Emergency”

    Greta Thunberg, PR and the “Climate Emergency”

    Feasta – The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability

    May 6, 2019

    By Brian Davey

     

     

    30 March 2019, Berlin: The Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg gives autographs to the waiting fans when she arrives at the Golden Camera award ceremony. The award ceremony will take place at Berlin’s disused Tempelhof Airport. Photo: Christoph Soeder/dpa (Photo by Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images)

     

    Preliminary remarks –

    Some notes on terminology:

    Climate Emergency – a human-induced increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases like CO2 and CH4 leading to rising global temperatures with impacts such as droughts, floods and heatwaves, crop failures, rising sea levels etc

    “Climate Emergency” (in inverted commas) – a declaration by politicians that they are taking the climate emergency seriously and that we can trust them to do something effective about it (which can be judged as being for real or as empty rhetoric depending on what happens.)

    Because of comments about the first edition of this article I wish to make clear that I am not opposed to wind, solar and renewable energy generation. What I am opposed to is the illusion that wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy can sustain a growth economy and the continuance of the consumer lifestyle in rich countries.

    Renewable energy can have a limited place in the future but the priority is degrowth – with energy and materials conservation by sharing more – because the global economy of the rich world has overshot the carrying capacity of the planet and this is very dangerous. In any case there are currently no affordable ways to buffer fluctuations in renewable energy generation between seasons and nor are these likely for a long time, if ever. I am also very opposed to the financialisation of nature for the reasons that I describe here briefly, and at more length in my book Credo which is available for free download (see the references).

    Finally, I learned a lot from the articles by Cory Morningstar but my politics and hers should not be taken as identical.

    Brian

    +++

    Icame across a linked series of articles one of which is mentioned on the Moon of Alabama website. They are titled “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent” and written by an investigative journalist by the name of “Cory Morningstar”. When I started reading them I was at first suspicious that this was another ad hominem attack on Greta Thunberg. However as I read further, to use the Biblical expression, “the scales fell from my eyes”.

    This is by far the best overview of global environmental and climate politics at this time – or what is behind the appearance that you will get if you only read and watch the mainstream media.

    The articles show the main actors in the drama, how they are connected to, or part of, major factions of the global corporate elite – and how they are pursuing what is in effect a global public relations campaign to “lead the public into emergency mode” – an emergency where the public will call for action and this part of the global elite will then have a mass backing and be able to deliver.

    But deliver what, exactly?

    In fact the agenda is to sell the need for a fourth industrial revolution…..

    I repeat that again – part of the global elite will deliver a green new deal or, as it is sometimes described, “a fourth industrial revolution”. This group of people are networked in organisations like the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Institute as well as 20 not for profit NGOs who are backing the idea like the World Resources Institute, Avaaz and its offshoot Team B, Greenpeace…and others.

    To these should be added other organisations and movements like 350.org which are part of the influencing environment for the people who set up Extinction Rebellion, influencing XR’s limited statement of its aims.

    At first sight all of this seems great, really encouraging – but only if the way that this network intends to follow through to address “the emergency” would actually work.

    Yet there are good reasons to believe that their approach won’t work – although they will be an enormously generous gift to the corporate aristocracy and some NGOs – they won’t solve the emergency. They will make it worse.

    This is because they want to address the global climate and environmental crisis to “save nature” by turning it into a huge money spinner. The policies that have been developed are intended to be an engine for re-kindling failing economic growth by “financialisating nature”. Natural processes are to be designated as “natural capital” and natural capital is to be priced and tradable on financial markets.

    The key idea here is that, in order to protect nature, you must incentivise nature protection with money. You must pay to protect so called “eco-system services”. The idea is that if we want to prevent extinction we need a system that makes it pay in money terms and we will need a system that will bring about a whole new set of technologies – so called “clean tech”.

    What’s wrong with financialising nature?

    Indigenous people often regard nature as kin – for example, people in the Andes refer to ‘mother earth’. They protect mother earth just as they would protect their own mother because it gave them life, because they came from it. They know how nature works where they live because that is handed down to them from their ancestors and they hold it in trust for their children and descendants. They don’t expect cash payments – it is a duty not to overuse the earth and that is an ethic they live by. That ethic has been maintained by people living and working on natural commons over centuries before they were stolen by an elite during the enclosures. In commons there is a collective responsibility not to over-use resources – or not to harm the lived in environment to which people feel loyalty and attachment.

    Our society lives by different ethics. If we want something doing we must pay money – including not driving the entire ecological system to collective death. That’s mainstream economics for you. In our society the rich see nature as a store of resources – trees are timber which has a money value but the untouched forests do not. If we want to protect the forest then the money junkies tell us that the forest must be given a money value too. Then if someone wishes to cut down trees for timber they have to pay for the loss of the forest too – the eco-system services that would be lost, like absorbing CO2, like the role of the forest in rainfall and the water cycle. Indeed, the new argument is that whoever owns the eco-system services of the forest should get a payment for protecting.

    If we are going to think of nature as being like your mother then think of it like this. Say your mother is under threat, the key thing is how much is she worth and how much money can you pull together to protect her? Well it’s like that with nature. If your mother’s not worth tuppence and you’ve got no money anyway, you might as well sell her into slavery. It’s the same with nature. In this regard you sell into the financial markets, because banks can create any amount of money as loans to people who want to buy bits of nature, while other bits of the financial markets can make money organising the exchanges to trade on.

    But there are problems with this. For example think of the protection of forests. Forest peoples have been protecting forests for centuries, only harvesting sustainably. They never had to be paid to do this – they understood how to live sustainably in the forests and were not greedy, so stopped forest resources being over-used. These kind of people will now be turfed out. They don’t have certificates of ownership purchased on the financial markets. The new owners will be the people in the financial markets who make money decisions about ecological issues. Will they protect the forests better from their offices? This is the doubtful logic of this new kind of green colonialism.

    This is the way the money junkies think. There is a reversal of means and ends in their minds. The ends of the players on the natural capital markets is to make money – and, supposedly, making money is achieved by means of protecting nature.

    Yet the experience of schemes like this is that money-making wins over nature because there is no obvious price for eco-system services, or for biodiversity loss or for carbon emitted. There is far too much uncertainty and a real ethical and conceptual question about whether you can or should value the carbon emissions, or the lives of people, species or eco-systems (eco-system services). What’s more there are all sorts of practical problems with coming up with prices – for example people are keen to protect pandas with a high price but less keen to pay a high price to protect creepy crawlers, snakes and spiders, even though they are an integral part of the ecosystem. Most people haven’t a clue how eco-systems work, how the climate works – and nor could they have. So how can they “value them”?

    Decisions about climate, vital ecosystem functions and species should not be market decisions, they should be political ones – taken democratically by those affected.

    In any case, we know that what happens in such markets is that the actors game the systems to make as much money as possible by scams and frauds. That has already happened on a massive scale during carbon trading. Everyone involved in carbon trading knew it was one massive scam. Nevertheless the religion of the modern world is economics, in the service of the great God money and so:

    “The development of the Natural Capital Protocol Project was made possible with generous funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, International Finance Corporation (World Bank) with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Netherlands, The Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The Coalition is hosted by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Other funders include; World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the Google Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank, Unilever, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and the World Bank.”

     

    “World Resources Institute provided the technical insights and review for the Natural Capital Protocol. The protocol was developed by Conservation International, The B Team, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sustain Value, ACTS, Management (ERM), Imperial College, ISS, Natural Capital Project, Synergiz, WWF, Accenture, Arcadis, eftec, Environmental Resources CDSB, Deloitte, Dow, eni, GIST Advisory, Kering, LafargeHolcim, Natura, Nestlé, Roche, Shell, and The Nature Conservancy. The protocol was led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) consortium.”

    . …but back to Greta Thunberg. How did she become an eco-star?

    How the Greta Thunberg phenomenon was fostered – the “We Don’t have time” consultancy

    Please note that although the title of these articles is “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg”, they are not saying that Greta Thunberg is a simple puppet doing what she is told. She’s obviously a smart young woman. But she would not have got a place in the World Economic Forum and at the United Nations FCC COP in Katowice, had she not been very well connected and had her rise to eco-stardom not been stage-managed from early on. Her mother had an award from the corporate friendly environmentalists in the World Wide Fund for Nature and she was promoted by an organisation that works with Al Gore and important parts of the Silicon Valley elite.

    Greta Thunberg was an adviser to a foundation established by a Swedish business called “We don’t have time”. So what is this business “We don’t have time”?

    “We Don’t Have Time is mainly active in three markets: social media, digital advertising and carbon offsets. [“In the US alone estimated market for carbon offsetting amount to over 82 billion USD of which voluntary carbon offset represents 191 million USD. The market is expected to increase in the future, in 2019 estimated 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions to be associated with any kind of cost for offsetting.”] As the company is a niche organization, social networks are able to provide services tailored to platform users. The startup has identified such an opportunity by offering its users the ability to purchase carbon offsets through the platform’s own certification. This option applies to both the individual user of the platform, as well as whole organizations/companies on the platform.

     

    “One incentive of many identified in the start-up investment section is that users will be encouraged to “communicate jointly and powerfully with influential actors.” Such influencers are Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin who both have lucrative futures in the branding of “sustainable” industries and products, if they wish to pursue this path in utilizing their present celebrity for personal gain (a hallmark of the “grassroots” NGO movement).” (Further reading here.)

    A nice little earner then…and that’s the philosophy of the people at the top who are leading this process. In their world view you have to make it pay to protect nature.

    If you are not paying attention this looks like a child doing it all herself and getting a fantastic amount of attention – starting a snowball. Indeed the process is snowballing with big support. That was the idea and it was very successful – but what actually is the agenda of the elite faction behind all of this?

    Here’s a quote from Cory Morningstar about how it started:

    “The ‘one kid immediately got twenty supporters’ – from a Swedish network for sustainable business. What is going on is the launch of a global campaign to usher in a required consensus for the Paris Agreement, the New Green Deal and all climate related policies and legislation written by the power elite – for the power elite. This is necessary in order to unlock the trillions of dollars in funding by way of massive public demand.”

    The industrial agenda

    “These agreements and policies include carbon capture storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), rapid total decarbonisation, payments for ecosystem services (referred to as “natural capital”), nuclear energy and fission, and a host of other “solutions” that are hostile to an already devastated planet. What is going on – is a rebooting of a stagnant capitalist economy, that needs new markets – new growth – in order to save itself. What is being created is a mechanism to unlock approximately 90 trillion dollars for new investments and infrastructure. What is going on is the creation of, and investment in, perhaps the biggest behavioural change experiment yet attempted, global in scale. And what are the deciding factors in what behaviours global society should adhere to? And more importantly, who decides? This is a rhetorical question as we know full well the answer: the same Western white male saviours and the capitalist economic system they have implemented globally that has been the cause of our planetary ecological nightmare. This crisis continues unabated as they appoint themselves (yet again) as the saviours for all humanity – a recurring problem for centuries……”

    When Thunberg goes off message

    That does not mean that Greta Thunberg necessarily understands or believes the entire elite agenda. At Katowice she made a speech part of which was off-message – perhaps she got the ideas from Professor Kevin Anderson whom she met there. Anderson is a climate scientist who argues that the economy must contract to meet climate goals. He also argues that it is the rich who must bear most of the burden of this.

    Here is a part of Thunberg’s speech:

    “You only speak of the green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.”

     

    “But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.”

    Thunberg talked about making enormous amounts of money and she talked about growth – but this is the part of the message that Avaaz cut from their reporting of Thunberg. Cory Morningstar comments: “It is not surprising Avaaz would strike Greta’s comments considering a primary function of Avaaz is to promote market solutions that accelerate “green” economic growth – in servitude to “a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.””

    In conclusion

    The series of articles linked to below shows how elite environmentalists want to revive the Paris Climate Agreement and how the Green New Deal in the USA is supposed to become a global process brought about by having the public clamouring to declare climate emergencies and that to achieve all of this strategic NGOS and campaign movements and new emerging celebrities like Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have been supported and their leaders partially co-opted.

    By writing this piece I do not mean here to deny that there is an ecological crisis, and nor that there is a climate emergency and that urgent action is needed. Rather it is to show that there is a sophisticated PR campaign behind what is happening and the agenda is that of a major faction in the global elite. This agenda will not work – indeed it will complete the destruction of nature and the eco-system.

    How can I claim that with complete conviction and certainty? Because this is an expansionary programme and ecological footprint analysis has already established that the biosphere is being consumed as if there were 1.7 planets. All serious approaches to resolving the ecological crisis recognise that the global economy must contract back to a one planet level. The economy must degrow.

    What’s more it is richest 5% of the planet that consume 50% of planetary carbon – so the very people who are promoting this campaign must cut back the most. Instead they want to expand the economy. But how is this to be made compatible with reducing carbon emissions?

    It isn’t – but a careful looks at the language of nature financialisation refers to carbon neutrality, not zero carbon. This is “convenient language when one of the main pillars of the business model is the sale of carbon offsets – rationalizing a continuance of the same carbon based lifestyle by constructing a faux fantasy one, that anyone with monetary wealth, can buy into.”

    To conclude this story with another quote from Cory Morningstar: in the quote below, she makes reference to Edward Bernays, the master of Public Relations and Marketing. In the 1920s he helped the tobacco industry achieve a massive new market – women.

    Sensing the mood of many young women, Bernays got photos of young women smoking in prominent publications as an expression of their liberation and as an act of defiance and cultural rebellion. It was a fantastic success – for the tobacco industry, though not for women’s health. By engineering a feeling of emergency and rebellion – and channelling public concern and anger to what is an elite agenda for the environment long in preparation, it is hoped to pull off support for a massive policy coup for a section of the elite.

    “The ten-year social engineering effort also led to a transition from environmentalism into full-blown yet undetected anthropocentrism. Over a ten year span, “environmentalism ” moved from that of protecting nature, to demanding a roll-out of green technology, industrial in scale, that would further plunder nature. The natural world became irrelevant as the desire for green technology superceded environmental protection. Wind turbines and solar panels replaced images of trees and insects as the new symbols of our natural world. Saving the industrial civilization that is killing off all life became paramount to saving the ecosystems that all life depends on. These ideologies slowly took hold until “movements” become nothing more than lobby groups for green energy. Volunteers marching for capital, global in scale. To suggest that Edward Bernays would be impressed would be an understatement. Such is the beauty of social engineering and behavioural change.”

    Afterword

    After finishing writing this article I read a very interesting article on the same blog – about the appearance of an “XR Business Blog” which revealed some of the business interests behind Extinction Rebellion. Given the controversy it caused this part of the XR blog rapidly disappeared. Several of the named individuals are venture capitalist funders – looking to make money from what they claim to be “sustainability” and very much within the green growth camp. I doubt that many of the companies named, including Unilever for example, would embrace degrowth, the revival of the commons, co-operatives or other types of institutions for sharing so needed for economies which contracting back to the point of one planet living. Above all it seems to bear out the suspicion that for some of its leaders and initiators the XR Rebellion was seen as part of the planned PR offensive to build support for the phony Green New Deal….

    For Reference – “This changes nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality” – Clive Spash https://www.clivespash.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2016-Spash-This-Changes-Nothing.pdf

    Brian Davey – Credo: Economic Beliefs in a World in Crisis Chapters 26 and 27 on the sale of “ rights to pollute, biodiversity loss and the valuation of nature” and Chapters 45 and 46 on climate economics – free to download at http://www.credoeconomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/credo.pdf

    Featured image: ‘finance growth’. Source: https://www.freeimages.com/photo/finance-growth-concept-3-1236227

    Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members. 

     

    [Brian Davey trained as an economist but, aside from a brief spell working in eastern Germany showing how to do community development work, has spent most of his life working in the community and voluntary sector in Nottingham particularly in health promotion, mental health and environmental fields. He helped form Ecoworks, a community garden and environmental project for people with mental health problems. He is a member of Feasta Climate Working Group and former co-ordinator of the Cap and Share Campaign. He is editor of the Feasta book Sharing for Survival: Restoring the Climate, the Commons and Society, and the author of Credo: Economic Beliefs in a World in Crisis.]

    Extinction Rebellion Training, or How to Control Radical Resistance from the ‘Obstructive Left’

    May 6, 2019

    By Cory Morningstar

     

     

    “New Power” – “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want”

    – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz, B Team Expert

     

    Above: XR local coordinator training document. Diagram: The “US” circle on the top signifies Extinction Rebellion. The middle circle identifies “mostly obstructive” political activists (“hard left”) that must be bypassed in order to reach the bottom circle. The bottom circle represents the non-political citizens, the target audience of XR.

    Background

    Extinction Rebellion (XR) officially launched on October 31, 2018. On November 2, 2018, a video was uploaded to the Extinction Rebellion YouTube account. The video documents the training session held by XR co-founder Roger Hallam: “This was filmed at the Extinction Rebellion Local Coordinator training in Bristol. Roger Hallam explains some the key dynamics of building a mass movement from the level of personal resilience to creating system change.”

    Here, it is critical to remind oneself, that this is the XR mass organizing model for the mobilization of a global citizenry. Consider between the official launch on October 31, 2018, in the UK, to December 6, 2018, it grew to over 130 groups, across 22 countries. By January 29, 2019, the Extinction Rebellion groups spanned across 50 countries. On April 27, 2019 XR reported they were nearing 400 branches globally.

    The global expansion is being led by Margaret Klein Salamon [Source], founder of The Climate Mobilization, who launched the Extinction Rebellion US Twitter account on October 31, 2018 – the same day as the launch of Extinction Rebellion in the UK. The Extinction Rebellion demands are not only complementary to The Climate Mobilization’s emergency strategy now in motion; they are a mirror image of it with the slogan, “Tell the Truth”. [Further reading: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The House is On Fire! & the 100 Trillion Dollar Rescue, ACT IV]

    Training the XR Local Coordinators

    Above: Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam

    During the training session, Hallam draws a chart with three circles. The small circle on the top signifies Extinction Rebellion – people that want to get things done. The middle circle is quickly identified as the contentious one. This circle identifies the “mostly obstructive”, highly political, a “hard left”, which must be bypassed in order to reach the bottom circle. The bottom circle, the largest in size, represents the non-political citizens, the target audience of XR: “The people who’re shitting themselves and want something to be done but aren’t highly political.” [Source: XR Local Coordinator Training]

    Hallam:

    “I’m just going to finish on something that’s a bit of a taboo subject, okay? But it’s another major issue you’re going to find when you organize, which is difficult, political people.

     

    Okay, so I’m going to do a little chart here.

     

    You usually find, like most of us people in this room, that are really political, but we’re really practical because we want to get some things done. Okay?

     

    And then below us, in inverted commas, there’s another group of people that are really political and don’t want to get things done, because they’re so political. (lots of laughter). I will separate those people out in a minute.

     

    And then below that, this is like a thousand times bigger, they really want to do something well there actually not political, you see what I mean.

     

    These people really want to get things done. Then they go down here and try to involve these people, and these people basically grind it to death.”

    Hallam speaks of the dangers posed by the “extreme hard left” viewpoints, “extreme intersectionalism” (“we need to be all perfect and that sort of stuff”), extreme desire for diversity, “extreme veganism”, etc. His examples are deliberately misleading and ridiculous. His mention of anarchism provokes more laughter.

    Hallam concedes “and often they’re right” yet has zero interest in empowering this group to further empower the bottom “non-political” masses targeted by XR. Rather, his aim is to recruit the ones that can be persuaded into adopting pragmatism, while silencing those that refuse to conform.

    In the Rebellion business, ethics isn’t a driving force, rather it is a detriment:

    “Look, all the most effective movements have a central concept and that concept is balance. Balance the pragmatic need and the ethical imperative to change society versus the need to be eternally ethical.”

    The message is clear – target the practical and pragmatic. Distance yourself from the self-centered “purists”.

    “They’re [the 20%) not actually interested in political effectiveness. They’re interested in a political approach that makes them feel good.”

    Although XR claims, “We are working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised, and inclusive” – this runs in stark contrast to XR’s own conduct:

    “The name of the game is to bypass these people, or at least recruit the little bit of them that get it … and go down here. And that’s how we’ve managed to mobilize thousands of people in three months. By having a public meeting. And if the public meeting is constructed around participative principles, you won’t have the SWP [Socialist Workers Party] guy standing up at the end. Everyone’s feeling good and he does a rant about how it has to be socialist, otherwise it’s rubbish. Which brings everybody down. It happens over and over again. And how we do that, we don’t have a Q & A. Q&A’s encourage nerdy people and absolutists, (laughter), we all know this, right? I mean you can have a Q&A if you’re super confident and you’re in a group of people that are generally like, in the real world, but if you have a public meeting 8o% of the people will be normal people, who are basically interested in the issue, and 20% of the people will be political absolutists. And they will there to appropriate your energy.”

    And this ideology upheld by Hallam is the very foundational ideology being taught, encouraged and nurtured by Extinction Rebellion. Hallam: “This is how you mobilize lots of people.”

    This , in essence, forms the key strategy of Extinction Rebellion. To isolate radical voices and to dominate the narrative. While targeting the non-practical and pragmatic. A narrative and an orchestrated campaign that serves the ruling class. To give a faux sense of inclusion, while mocking those who have, first and foremost, an allegiance to the Earth. Framing those who recognize that the very capitalist system destroying all life on our finite planet, will not and cannot be magically reformed to save us, as “political absolutists”. As Hallam effectively frames those identified in the middle circle as not “normal”, he seeks assurances from his students by ending sentences with a pleasant “yeah?” and “okay?”, at which point – largely due to the power of conformity in a group setting – they agree. Laughter ensues. There is no challenge to Hallam’s diatribe. The deliberate framing of those that do not conform as “obstructive” is effective social engineering.

    Although Extinction Rebellion takes no position against capitalism, Hallam has no issue with taking a swipe at socialism. Using the Mondragon experiment in Spain as an example, Hallam explains that the central concept must be balance, “not socialism or anything”.

    These are the main points captured by/for the XR Local Coordinators:

    “They’re [the middle group] not interested in political effectiveness, they’re interested in things being perfect and good. This is not a personal judgment, but it won’t help.”

     

    The majority, to be herded like cats (GCCA/TckTckTck – Global Call for Climate Action) are “[T]he people who’re shitting themselves and want something to be done but aren’t highly political.”

     

    “Don’t have a Q & A. This allows the extreme people who want it to be one way to bring everyone else down.”

     

    80% are normal people [and] 20% political absolutists. There to appropriate your energy.”

     

    “It’s not about climate change information, it’s about the emotional way that we say it – needs to create that emotional response, personal reactions are incredibly powerful.”

    For XR leadership, the enemy of Rebellion is not corporate dominance such as Unilever or Volans (as recently confirmed by XR Business). The enemy of Rebellion is not the capitalist economic system devouring everything in its path. The enemy of the Rebellion is the radical activist, prepared to defend the Earth “by any means necessary”.

     

    Pacifism as Pathology

    “In certain situations, preaching nonviolence can be a kind of violence. Also, it is the kind of terminology that dovetails beautifully with the ‘human rights’ discourse in which, from an exalted position of faux neutrality, politics, morality, and justice can be airbrushed out of the picture, all parties can be declared human rights offenders, and the status quo can be maintained.” —  Arundhati Roy, How to Think About Empire

    Hallam recommends to his students that they study: “The Psychology of Persuasion“, “The Radical Think Tank” (“How to Win“), and “This is an Uprising” by Mark Engler (with glowing forewords by 350.org’s Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein).

    Here, is another orchestrated and ongoing effort to further pacify the working class in servitude to the state. One would be wise to toss “This is an Uprising” and instead read “Bloodless Lies: Book Review of This is an Uprising” (November 7, 2016). This is an excellent example of what those enmeshed in the non-profit industrial complex do not want you to read.

    Rather than educating citizens why it is paramount that we become revolutionaries in order to protect the last vestiges of the natural world, Hallam encourages his newly-minted coordinators to embrace the role of “generalists”. [XR Generalists: “run meetings, be good with people, know how society changes, etc.; Revolutionary theorists – hard work is already done!; Books to read – This is an Uprising (Mark Engler)”] [Source]

    +++

    The Elites in Service to Capital

    As touched upon in the conclusion of the Manufacturing Greta Thunberg for Consent series, ACT VI, Extinction Rebellion ties to some of the world’s most powerful NGOs at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex (Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace et al.). A largely white-led movement serving white power.

    XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook, is also highly influential with decade-long ties to the tech industry. In his workshop, Hallam chuckles when he laments, “Like Gail, she’s got these connections with the elites. She’s on the phone with George [Monbiot]”. Bradbrook’s “connections with the elites” is no exaggeration. Featured in “The Financial Times”, the prestigious publication writes of Bradbrook: “Clad in a crimson coat and matching hat as she dashes between fundraising discussions with a London hedge-fund owner and meetings to rally Extinction Rebellion volunteers…” Indeed, “activism” has never been so en vogue, and a £50,000 donation by a hedge-fund owner to Extinction Rebellion [Source], raises no eyebrows whatsoever. It is safe to say that the hallowed out remnants of Western environmentalism have reached a new stage of commodification and normalization of such. This is not rebellion. This is business. Of course Bradbrook is not the only elite at the helm.

    Above: Farhana Yamin at the prestigious Extinction Rebellion headquarters [Photo: Vice]

    Farhana Yamin is “one of the movement’s leading voices” in Extinction Rebellion (Financial Times). Yamin who “spent 27 years in UN climate negotiations” and “helped midwife the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions” serves as a board member/trustee to Greenpeace. [Source: The rise of Extinction Rebellion, The Financial Times, April 12, 2019]

    “Yamin, the international lawyer, who is also a trustee of Greenpeace UK and will soon take up an advisory role at the World Wildlife Fund, wants to build a bridge with existing organisations to forge a much bigger “movement of movements”. “We need to tap into the new form of leadership that’s being asked of us now,” she says. [Source: “Extinction Rebellion, inside the new climate resistance”, The Financial Times, April 10, 2019]

    Former Vogue “climate warrior” (2015), Yamin is the founder and CEO of Track 0: “Track 0 is an independent, not-for-profit organization serving as a hub to support all those transitioning to a clean, fair and bright future for future generations around the world compatible with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. We convene leaders and provide strategic research, training, advice, communications and networking support to governments, businesses, investors, philanthropies, communities and campaigns run by civil society.”

    Partners of Track 0 include GCCA (TckTckTck), CAN (Climate Action Network), Avaaz, ClimateWorks (The Climate Group, We Mean Business), The Rockefeller Foundation, E3G (founder of GCCA), The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, European Climate Foundation and Chatham House. [Full list]

    Advisory members of Track 0 include Sharon Johnson, “CEO Havas Media Re:Purpose”. This is incredible yet not surprising as Havas created the 2009 TckTckTck campaign a decade ago. Other advisory members include Betsy Taylor (served on boards of One Sky which merged with 350.org, Ceres, The Climate Mobilization, etc.), and Bernice Lee, Director, Climate Change at World Economic Forum.

    One can glance through the Track 0 “Individuals & Organizations on Track” section to understand who is considered “on track” for “net zero” by Yamin et al. Certainly not those obstructionists found in Hallam’s middle circle.

    In addition to founding Track 0, Yamin is an associate fellow at Chatham House and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change at the World Economic Forum.

     

    Above: Track 0, Twitter

    Yamin served as an adviser to the European Commission on the emissions trading directive from 1998-2002, later serving as special adviser to Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action. “She is lead author of three assessment reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on adaptation and mitigation issues. She continues to provide legal, strategy and policy advice to NGOs, foundations and developing nations on international climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC.” [Source]

    As discussed in “A Decade of Strategic and Methodical Social Engineering”, while the International Policies and Politics Initiative and GCCA controlled the “movement” at COP15,  the same forces also controlled the message via the Carbon Briefing Service (CBS). The news service was launched by Jennifer Morgan (WWF, WRI, Greenpeace,etc.) and Liz Gallagher (E3G) in late 2014 with additional funding by the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Villum Foundation and Avaaz. [Source] Yamin was a participant of the invitation only group. [Source]

    In 2015 Yamin attended a week-long retreat hosted by Avaaz. [Source]

    Those who have read my past work as well as the Greta series, will know Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund are both founders of GCCA (TckTckTck) – and are both at the helm of this faux movement. These NGOs and others at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex are tasked with creating another “Paris moment” momentum needed for the coming financialization of nature to be implemented in 2020 (#NewDealForNature) – as well as the unlocking of monies needed for the fourth industrial revolution (to save capitalism itself).

    Above: Track 0, Twitter

    Above: Avaaz endorsement by Christiana Figueres [Source: Avaaz website]

    Above: Track 0 highlights, September 24, 2014

    Here we witness the social-organizational psychology experts grooming tomorrows “new champions“, “global shapers” and “new power” “thought-leaders” as determined and ultimately dictated by the world’s most powerful elites. In the 21st century, psychology is not only an extremely important tool in influencing public opinion, it is now considered to be perhaps the single and most important tool. The necessity to comprehend the mental processes, desires and social patterns of the populace at large cannot be understated. Working in lock-step with controlled media and the best marketing executives foundation money can buy, today’s faux activists, thought-leaders and media lapdogs are the very mechanisms of modern-day perception.  – The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

    +++

    [Further reading: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – A Decade of Social Manipulation for the Corporate Capture of Nature, ACT VI – Crescendo]

    +++

    In 1966, Stokely Carmichael stated: “And that’s the real question facing the white activists today. Can they tear down the institutions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hundreds of years?”

    This is the real question facing legitimate activists today. Are we tearing down the institutions, or keeping them propped up? Extinction Rebellion has been tasked with the propping up of the very institutions we must dismantle. There is a reason manufactured “environmentalists” and celebrities are recognized as key influencers. It is a deliberate undertaking that Hallam recommends “Rules for Revolutionaries” (based on US Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential run), rather than highlighting true revolutionaries such as Marilyn Buck, Malcolm X, or the land defenders on the frontlines today. The ones who often receive no press (until they are murdered). The ones that would belong to Hallam’s middle circle. It is a burying of radical political resistance. A reframing of resistance – into an obedient compliance. Note that Rules for Revolutionaries is written by Zach Exley, current advisor to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is notable that praise for the book, from a bevy of authors includes Robert B. Reich, author of Saving Capitalism.

    The influencers for the ruling classes are worth their weight in gold.

    We Mean Business – Top Ten Climate Change Influencers, Twitter

    British actress/celebrity Emma Thompson, Extinction Rebellion festivities, April 19, 2019

    Emma Thompson for Global Optimist. The Climate Optimist campaign was launched in 2017 by The Climate Group in partnership with Futerra

    Emotion – Not Information

    Another critical imperative Hallam highlights for mass mobilization is “emotion – not information”. Hallam laments that the people who will lead the “rebellion” will be young people:

    “The last thing to reiterate is the emotion – not the information … so the people that are going to lead this rebellion are going to be young people, 14 & 15 year olds …omg – a 14 year-old is in tears, right?, on television, about what’s happening…”

    Thus, a key strategy for XR was (and continues to be) “How to engage with younger people – youth mobilisation, talks in schools/colleges, figuring out how to engage on ‘youth’ social media.” [Source]

    We Mean Business is ecstatic over the climate strikes. As is Christiana Figueres.

    Figueres, an anthropologist, economist and analyst having studied at London School of Economics and Georgetown University presided over the negotiations that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been recognized as “forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy”. With almost four decades of experience in multilateral negotiations, high-level national and international policy, coupled with extensive involvement in the corporate/private sector, in 2016, TIME magazine named Figueres one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    Today, Figueres serves as vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy; member of the board of directors of ClimateWorks; World Bank Climate Leader; B Team leader, leader of Mission2020 (“exponential transformation” focusing on six sectors that will play a key role in municipal governments and “Green New Deals”); and board member of the World Resources Institute.

    Christiana Figueres (top right corner) podcast series: It’s Going To Be Tremendous

    When the oppressor and the oppressed find themselves cheering as one, this is indeed “tremendous” for the elites. Yet, as the designs of the ruling elites take hold, which is already well under way, we will soon recognize that the citizenry themselves were grossly manipulated to usher in a nightmare that would only further their own demise.

    [Further reading: So who exactly is Christiana Figueres?]

    Above: The We Mean Business newsletter, April 30, 2019

    April 30, 2019: “Welcome to the April edition of the We Mean Business coalition newsletter…Amid fresh waves of protests demanding accelerated climate action, more and more businesses and policy makers are stepping up and delivering the level of systemic change required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

    We Mean Business – “a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.” The founding partners of We Mean Business are: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) (full membership and associate members list), CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

    The Climate Group was incubated by Rockefeller Brothers Fund as an in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution.

    Together, these groups represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, salivating to unleash trillions of dollars for the fourth industrial revolution. This, coupled with the financialization of nature, will create new markets, reboot global economic growth, and most importantly, rescue the global economic capitalist system that is destroying our biosphere.

    We Mean Business, February 20, 2019: “People are desperate for something to happen.” Twitter

    Christiana Figueres, B Team Leader [Source]. The B Team is a founder of We Mean Business

    Emotion To Mask Information: BioEnergy Carbon Capture Storage

    “The Institute has a unique and unrivalled membership including governments, global corporations, private industry and academia. Amongst its representation, are the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and Australia, and multinationals such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Toshiba, Kawasaki and BHP.” — The Global CCS Institute, website

    In the May 3, 2019 Extinction Rebellion newsletter (#20), the subject line reads “Parliament meets our first demand!” In the body of text: “There’s plenty of more obvious good news, though – most prominently Parliament’s declaration of climate and environment emergency.” What XR does not share with the public is that the UK CCC climate legislation was a victory for the carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry. In similar fashion to the financialization of nature, carbon capture legislation and projects are making huge strides behind closed doors – with zero opposition.

    Global CCS Institute, May 2, 2019, Twitter:

    “The Institute welcomes @theCCCuk report, which recommends that the UK commits to cutting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net-zero by 2050 and highlights the crucial role #carboncapture and storage needs to play to achieve this goal.  #NetZeroUK #climateaction”

    A zero emissions industrial civilization is not possible. For the continuance of industrial civilization, CCS is a necessity.  This is the promise of unabated business as usual. The future of energy will be dominated by the burning of our remaining forests, coupled with CCS. Akin to the depleted uranium left for future generations to contend with, CCS will inject the increasing CO2 into the ravaged Earth. This is the gift to be left to Greta Thunberg and the youth she inspires.  A gift to span generations.

    More than this, “net zero” does not mean zero emissions. And it never did. Yet another inconvenient truth is that ‘The terms ‘net zero emissions’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ are interchangeable. This is the beauty of language and framing.

    “Carbon Neutral is a term used to describe the state of an entity (such as a company, service, product or event), where the carbon emissions caused by them have been balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.” Carbon neutrality is most often sought/achieved through carbon offsetting (purchasing offsets, trading and projects).

    Question by Richard Branson’s The Elders NGO to Farhana Yamin (2014): How is carbon neutrality different to ‘net zero emissions’?

    Answer by Yamin: “The terms ‘net zero emissions’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ are interchangeable.”

    Q: Global News, Dec 3, 2018: What is net-zero emissions?

    A: Catherine Abreau, executive director of the Climate Action Network: “In short, it means the amount of emissions being put into the atmosphere is equal to the amount being captured.”

    Militarism – as one of the key drivers of climate change, ecological devastation, and death of millions, remains a non-issue. The global “green new deals” guarantee further imperialism and an escalation in wars. These realities have been deliberately and successfully removed from the conversation. They are buried in the 20% circle with the purists.

    “The evidence makes it clear. CO2 needs to be removed from the atmosphere, known as carbon dioxide removal (CDR), using negative emissions technologies (NETs) to meet global warming targets. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is emerging as the best solution to decarbonise emission-intensive industries and sectors and enable negative emissions.” — March 14, 2019, Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage, The Global CCS Institute

     

    “[F]or BECCS technology to be truly effective in reducing CO2 emissions, massive tracts of arable land need to be cultivated and these are not always available, or easily utilised.” The Global CCS Institute

    Emotion to Mask Information: The Financialization of Nature

     

    The next phase for the implementation of the financialization of nature commenced April 29, 2019 with the IPBES Global Assessment gathering (the IPCC for Biodiversity).

    The “first global biodiversity assessment in 14 years”, will be released on May 6, 2019, with the expected “summary for policymakers” section. We can expect a top “scientific endorsement” for a full package of financialization of nature policy tools, including global metrics for valuation, commodification and offset schemes.

    The five-day gathering was held last week at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, ending on May 4, 2019.

    There were no protests.

    Above: John Elkington: Co-founder of Volans, B Team expert (founded by Richard Branson, The B Team is a co-founder of We Mean Business), member of the WWF Council of Ambassadors, and Extinction Rebellion Business signatory (along with Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion)

    Together, these deals read like the biggest land grab since Britannia ruled the waves. This is the big deployment of measurement and financial instruments that the corporate sector, finance and ruling classes have developed. Every little bit of sequestration will be used to further satisfy natural capital ambitions under the guise of climate protection.

    The public face of this grotesque undertaking are the campaigns “New Deal For Nature” and “Voice For The Planet”. These are being led by WWF – co-founder of GCCA. The NGOs comprising the GCCA have played the lead role in orchestrating the global mobilizations for climate change over the past decade, in full servitude to their funders.

    The “Voice For the Planet” is especially egregious, as it is presented by the World Economic Forum “Global Shapers” youth group.

    The gross exploitation of youth for capital expansion rivals only the gross exploitation of Indigenous peoples. The appropriation and utilization of Indigenous imagery to promote market solutions is long documented.

    The world’s most powerful corporations and NGO partners appropriate Indigenous culture imagery for emotive branding as they unleash and uphold market “solutions” which further displace Indigenous peoples. They undermined the 2010 Indigenous led People’s Agreement and then buried it. They speak of Indigenous protection – while they actively promote “green” marketing schemes and “green new deals” that will further displace Indigenous peoples. That will further accelerate the ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

    Promotional illustrations/video for Green New Deal by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis for support of the New Green Deal

    +++

    They exploit the global youth to steal the natural world the beneath their feet.

    They exploit the love for nature – to further enslave nature.

    As GCCA co-founder WWF aids and abets Indigenous displacement, beatings and deaths, under the guise of conservation, GCCA partners are silent. This is the normalizing of a continued colonization repackaged under the guise of conservation and “green”.

    Industrial civilization – is the enemy of the natural world. We defend industrial civilization – or we defend the planet. This is the choice. The question is, which side are we on?

    And the answer to that question is perhaps the most terrifying thing of all.

    “No One Believed in Capitalist Schemes and Promises Any More” part of the new “Scenes from the Revolution” series. Acrylic on canvas, 30″x30″, Artist: Stephanie McMillan

     

     

    [Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

     

    Further resources:

    “Trees don’t grow on money – or why you don’t get to rebel against extinction”, by Tim Hayward

    Climate Capitalists, by Winter Oak Press

    “This Changes Nothing, The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality”, by Clive Spash

    Video: Selling Extinction, by Prolekult

    Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

    “New Power” – “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want” – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz, B Team Expert

    Trees Don’t Grow on Money – or Why You Don’t Get to Rebel Against Extinction

    Tim Hayword 

    April 29, 2019

     

    Money doesn’t go on trees, and although people can make money out of trees, they cannot make trees out of money. This much may seem platitudinous, but it is worth keeping in mind.

    What is true of trees is true of the natural world as a whole, including the human beings that are part of it. Nature is real; money is an abstraction. If money seems real that is because our institutions and practices are so deeply premised on beliefs in it. There is an important sense in which those institutionalized beliefs – in crediting it with a certain value – make money real; but it is not real in the way the natural world is real. If a bank goes bust, if a whole economy crashes, the social upheaval that follows may be immense, but life goes on – people will pick themselves up and start again (and some people, meanwhile, will likely have found a way to profit from it!). By contrast, if a species goes extinct, if an ecosystem collapses, then there is no prospect – certainly not on human timescales – of a recovery. The threat of extinction to our own species is the ultimate threat.

    Extinction Rebellion has given publicity to critically important concerns of our time – the ecological crises as exemplified by dangerous climate change and biodiversity loss.[1] But it also gives rise to some perplexity.

    A circumstantial puzzle is how an apparently spontaneous social movement of protest comes to have the energetic backing of big business interests and even to receive notable support from influential sections of the corporate media.

    On deeper reflection, what does it even mean to stage a rebellion against extinction? Rebellions usually involve a group of people rising up to protest or overthrow another group that wields unjust or illegitimate power over them. How can you ‘rebel’ against extinction? It is not as if you can choose to disobey the laws of nature.

    The website that asserts the copyright © Extinction Rebellion, states certain demands directed at government.[2] The moral clarity of their seemingly simple message, however, could be deceptive.[3]

    Two key demands are: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”

    These may sound like goals that any ethically rational person could wholeheartedly endorse, and yet, as a recent critical study by Cory Morningstar has demonstrated, what their pursuit entails does not necessarily correspond to what people might imagine.[4]

    First, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero does not mean eliminating emissions, or even necessarily reducing them at all. It refers to the possibility of engaging in other activities to offset them. The offsetting may be accomplished by various means of  technological fixes and/or accounting innovations, but what these means have in common is that they will be profitable to engage in. As was made explicit some years ago in the influential Stern Review of climate economics, a policy approach allowing emissions offsetting creates great opportunities for businesses and the financial sector.

    ‘Capital markets, banks and other financial institutions will have a vital role in raising and allocating the trillions of dollars needed to finance investment in low-carbon technology and the companies producing the new technologies.’ (Stern 2006: 270)

    ‘The development of carbon trading markets also presents an important opportunity to the financial sector. Trading on global carbon markets is now worth over $10bn annually’. (Stern 2006: 270)

    By attaching a price to carbon, a whole new commodity is created over which the distribution of rights represents a new income stream. So it’s good for shareholder profits, but what about nature? How confident can we be when its protection relies on a new multi-billion dollar market involving the same people responsible for the global financial crisis?

    The other key goal, to halt biodiversity loss, sounds like one that should not allow wriggle room for profiteers to game it. And yet, consider for a moment how one might propose – even with the best and purest of intentions – to bring biodiversity loss to a halt. The sheer extent of activities around the world that are undermining habitats and ecological systems is so great and complex, it is hard to conceive what exactly could and should be done, even given determined political will to do it. The proposed policy in reality, therefore, is not literally to stop doing everything we are currently doing that compromises biodiversity. Instead, it once again centres on putting a price on the aspects of nature that market actors attach value to. The premise is that if we accept it is not possible to halt the destruction of biodiversity in some places, it is still possible to protect and even re-create biodiversity in others. Thus, just as with carbon emissions, the ideas of substitution and compensation play a pivotal role: biodiversity loss may not be literally halted, but it can be offset.

    And how is biodiversity loss to be offset?[5] Here comes the familiar move: in order to weigh the loss in one place against a putative gain in another they must be subjected to a common scheme of measurement. Biodiversity being something of value, the way to record how much value any instance of it has is taken to be by reference to monetary price. Hence we learn that ‘biodiversity conservation and the related concept of “natural capital” are becoming mainstream. For instance, the Natural Capital Coalition is developing the economic case for valuing natural ecosystems and includes buy-in from some of the biggest players in business, accountancy and consulting. And the financial industry is moving toward more responsible investing.’[6]

    Yet this unidimensional quantification of value completely disregards the point that biodiversity is a complex and quintessentially qualitative phenomenon. It is of the essence of biodiversity that its biotic components and their environments are diverse. Being diverse means being different in ways that cannot be reduced to the measure of a single common denominator. Hence the essence of biodiversity is an irreducible plurality of incommensurables. The idea of ‘compensating’ for loss of biodiversity of one kind by the protection or enhancement of biodiversity of another kind elsewhere means disregarding the very meaning of biodiversity.[7]

    The idea of biodiversity offsets, then, does not have its rational basis in ecological concern but in the expansionary logic of capitalist profit seeking.

    A rebellion that really has any prospect of fending off disaster for our biosphere and ourselves needs to be based on a proper understanding of who and what needs to be rebelled against.

    Extinction Rebellion publicity material says that it is apolitical. Yet there is nothing apolitical about the real struggle that is required for people to seize the power currently concentrated in the hands of plutocrats. And to those who say – rightly – that ecological issues are greater than mere politics, it may be responded that this is why we cannot let it be “dealt with” by those who currently so misuse their political power.

    Asking governments to enact policies that corporate and financial backers are lining up to draw massive profits from is not what the people protesting against impending ecological disaster have in mind. It needs therefore to be clear that you can’t actually protest against disaster. You need to take on those who are driving us towards it. So you need to know who they are and how they are doing it. It’s a good idea to look carefully at who is shaping the demands you are being enlisted to make, and what exactly they entail.

    land-savings

    [1] For other, less discussed but no less significant problems, see Rockström et al. (2009).

    [2] Why they are directed at government without reference to the central role of powerful corporations is not completely obvious, and nor is the reason why the site also says the protest is ‘apolitical’, a question to be returned to.

    [3] We humans, especially the worst off – and not even to mention members of other species we share the planet with – certainly have powerful reasons for concern at the ecological crises being provoked by our collective global exploitation of the biosphere. But what “we” can do about that is nothing like as clear.

    In fact, there is no “we” that can act as a collective. There are multifarious different people, groups, tribes, classes, and nations that have competing interests. “We” are not organized to respond in a concerted, ethical and rational manner.

    On the other hand, a very small group of people – who alone command as much of the world’s aggregate resources as half the rest of the world’s population put together – is very well coordinated. At the highest levels of corporations and financial institutions they hold great power. With their immense wealth comes control over those – including politicians, journalists and various “thought leaders” – who exercise greatest influence over publics. Their power to manipulate public perceptions vastly exceeds most people’s awareness of it.

    So we – ordinary members of the public, whether old or young – can protest and engage in symbolic actions and go green in aspects of our lifestyle, yet to real little effect. In our heart of hearts we may know this, and yet we may still believe it important to try and to act as we think all should. So when the makings of a real social movement appear, we energetically embrace the opportunity it appears to present for making some more noticeable impact. Hence the enthusiastic welcome of Extinction Rebellion, in which school kids and pensioners have united around the moral and existential cause.

    But what sort of ‘rebellion’ is it that is conjured into action by a consortium of corporate-backed organizations and given extensive positive coverage in the corporate media? The commitments and beliefs of the multifarious individuals and groups on the ground are various and sincerely held, and they do tend to converge around something like the headline goals stated in the publicity material ©Extinction Rebellion. But the exact goals being endorsed focus on two very specific demands: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.” And in this post I am arguing that it is very easy to be misled into thinking these capture what we really want to achieve, whereas in reality they may in fact capture our acquiescence in the further extension of corporate power over the natural world and our own lives.

    [4] Morningstar’s set of six articles makes for somewhat demanding reading, and her purposes have sometimes been misunderstood or misrepresented on the basis of apparently rather casual perusal. Certainly, this has been noticeable in comments on Twitter, so I tried to distil some of her key points, without her detail or her critics’ distractions, in a Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/Tim_Hayward_/status/1120748645069021185

    [5] Some useful introductory sources are World Rainforest Movement: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/tag/green-economy/; Clive Spash 25 minute talk: https://vimeo.com/33921592; and the collection of material here: http://naturenotforsale.org/author/berberv/

    [6] Richard Pearson, ‘We have 15 years to halt biodiversity loss, can it be done?’, The Conversation, 26 Oct 2015 https://theconversation.com/we-have-15-years-to-halt-biodiversity-loss-can-it-be-done-49330.

    [7] For a pithy presentation of the basic ideas here see the short video ‘Biodiversity offsetting, making dreams come true‘ https://vimeo.com/99079535.

    References

    Rockström, Johan et al. (2009), ‘A Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, Nature 461: 472–75.

    Stern, Nicholas et al. (2006), Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change, London: HM Treasury.