The Capitalist West Must Pay
Capitalism as a system is very exploitative of both the people and the planet. Profit being the driver of this system, our planet is being pulled into shackles by this driver. Our environment is being affected by the profit motive of the capitalists which refrains them from thinking about the environmental impact of their actions. Even after being aware of the consequences, the capitalists take no steps to combat climate change. Instead there is a blame game which is being played out right now. No country is ready to undertake the expenses which will lead to no profit. Here’s more on this by Perspectoverse’s Tanvi Bansal.
Hunkered down at our homes, rarely venturing into the hauntingly empty streets, we are all desperately waiting to get our normal lives back. This is our situation in just two years where we are striving to get normality back to our life. However, our planet has been trying to reassert its original and normal state since centuries. The world is already facing a lot of challenges including poverty, war, famines or diseases. However there is one problem which is above all and requires special attention because it is worsening the situation of the other problems. This is the issue of climatic change.
This issue is having a devastating impact on all the creatures of the earth, definitely including humans. Climatic change is real and is caused by man. The major cause of climatic change is the current system of market economy commonly known as a capitalistic economy. Our current dominant economic system presents an instrumental obstacle to mitigating climate disaster. The fight against climatic change cannot be sustained in a capitalistic economy.In this economy, the production means are solely owned by the private owners without any government intervention. The only driver of this system is profit or the desire for more capital accumulation. If a system functions on the profit motive and demands millions of profit every year then it is certain that it will inevitably ignore the ongoing crisis of climatic change.
An example will prove how profit is actually taking a toll on the planet. In the late seventies, the scientists of the multinational company of EXON or Energy for Strong America had determined the detrimental impact of fossil fuels used by the company on the planet. However, instead of making this discovery public and working on a method to solve the issue, the company instead decided to keep this information confidential so that it does not impact the profit. If this was the situation in the past, then the condition has definitely become even worse today.The private sector has largely contributed to get the world to the current climatic situation. Since 1988, the coal and oil based companies are responsible for over 70% of global greenhouse emissions. This has accounted for more than 1 trillion tonne of global greenhouse gas emission. Another 10-15% of this degradation comes from the increasing demand and supply of forest based commodities like timber, paper, wood, rubber and the like. These are the biggest drivers of deforestation.
Now when the world needs to clean up, the entire blame is being put on the developing world. The main reason behind this is definitely profit. Most of the Western developed world contains capitalistic economies.All the western countries which were morally, historically, politically and even financially responsible for the climatic change are now painting themselves as green. They are not cutting down on their emissions due to the increased profit motive and huge costs of fighting against climate action. The West has always practiced climate colonialism. When the colonialist, industrialist countries expanded, they grew at the ecological cost of the developing nations. They became rich, fulfilled their profit motive and very smartly de-industrialised and exported their carbon emissions. This system whitewashed their historical role in climatic change making grounds to put the blame. Though everyone should do their best to combat climate change but the west did more damage and should pay rather than preach.
Since the Industrial revolution, the west is responsible for most of the climatic change. The United States had contributed 25% and the European Union had a contribution of 22%. Despite this the blame is being put on the developing nations like India and nations of Africa and South America who have barely emitted 3% of the global emissions. The UK and Germany have low current emissions but have contributed massively in the past. These countries became rich by driving the world to climate change and now they have left the poor countries to pay the cost.In the 20th century, the process of emissions transfer had started. All electronics, toys, apparels and other industries were shut down in the west and started in the east. The West got the goods and the east was left with the pollution.
This shows how the east is bearing the burden. However, the question is “Why is the West lying about emissions”. The reason is simple because it leads to hefty bills. They “pollute, lie and preach”. This age-old policy of the west to make profits through various ways is actually leading to the downfall of the entire world. Each and every individual is facing the consequence of their actions.
This shows how the capitalist west is not only contributing to pollution but also hiding the blame. The global e-commerce company of Amazon is known for its ill-treatment of employees. If a company cannot create suitable working conditions for the laborers who have helped it to expand, how can we count on such private players to actually come up and take steps against climate change? Why would any country take a loss on their business to stand against the climatic change when profit is their sole motivating factor? Currently technology is leading to more profits. However this is having a side effect on the environment which is neglected in capitalism. Hence this shows why capitalism and climate activism cannot strive together.
The probable solution of this issue is ending the age-old system of capitalism where both the people and the planet are at risk.Another important step can be switching to Genuine Progress Indicator or the GPI instead of the GDP. This takes into account both environmental and social factors and is based on sustainable income. This actually determines how the country is progressing without causing harm to the environment. For example, it has been found out that while the GDP of New Zealand has increased by 91% since 1970, the increase in GPI is only 52%. Hence this system will help in assessing the level of environmental damage caused by a nation. It should be globally accepted in place of GDP.
The West should be made to pay for the loss of the environment.Our economic system of capitalism is not fit to divert the focus from profit to the planet. Hence the radical steps which seem appealing to the scientists are extremely costly and unachievable at this stage. A strategy which tries to do away with capitalism as an economic system should be developed over time which would actually help our mother earth to heal. The blame game being played out by the west is not helping the planet tackle the crisis. It is aggravating the situation by delaying it further.
Written by Tanvi Bansal
Illustrated by Disha Kariwal