Address the roots of the climate crisis by resisting imperialism: US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement reflects the crisis of overproduction

Statement of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) Commission 13 on the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

09 June 2017

The International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) Commission 13 on Science, Technology and the Environment stands in solidarity with the peoples of the world who bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and echoes its strong condemnation of the continuous denial of the US, particularly, its President Donald Trump, on the scientific realities of climate change.

Trump’s climate denial was mentioned repeatedly during his presidency campaign. In fact, among his first executive orders upon setting foot as President of the White House was to remove any mention of climate change in all government documents. He also abolished the Inter-agency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, which has all the technical documents that make up the scientific and economic basis for the calculation of the social cost of carbon. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also continuously being threatened, particularly, now that it has the lowest budget allocation among government agencies.

Historically, the United States has been consistently a top carbon emitter and in 2011 was second only to China with 5,490.63 million metric tons or 17% of global total carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The resource-dependent and consumptive nature of US industries have historically contributed to the aggravation of the climate crisis as well as degradation of the environment, particularly, in the least-developed and developing countries.

Trump’s decision to pull out from the Paris Agreement is no surprise and is actually expected in the light of US’ performance on climate negotiations in the past.

However, while the world criticizes Trump and the US from withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, it should also be highlighted that the latter has no substantial effect on mitigating the climate crisis as science requires. The INDC or the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions does not guarantee the amount of cuts that each country would commit, and is also voluntary. A July 2016 study by no less than the US National Center for Atmospheric Research has shown that existing commitments on emissions reductions under the agreement are unlikely to prevent global warming above 2°C of pre-industrial temperatures by 2100. Furthermore, the Paris Agreement does not recognize the historical responsibility of big polluters like the US, EU and Japan. In fact, it does not require commitments on financing by developed countries after 2020.

The principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capacities (CBDR-RC) was also diluted in the agreement and takes away the fact that developed countries should commit more in addressing not just adaptation and mitigation, but also to bring needed funds, technology and support to developing countries who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The agreement is also silent on the contributions to the climate crisis of the military industrial complex and fossil fuel-driven proxy wars being waged by industrialized countries. The promotion of renewable energy within the Paris Agreement framework is also no different from previous policy agreements such as the clean development mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, composed of large-scale renewable energy projects such as mega-dams and biofuel plantations among others, which provided a convenient way out for top polluters to evade obligations to cut emissions. It has also led to the displacement indigenous communities and small farmers from their lands, and led to further biodiversity loss and disrupted ecosystems.

The Paris Agreement indeed fails to address the roots of the climate crisis, which is the monopoly capitalist system of production that aggressively exploits the world’s natural resources in the name of profit, and with little regard for the protection of the planet and the welfare of its inhabitants.

Thus, we see the Paris Agreement as another empty gesture from the world’s governments. The US withdrawal from the agreement is nothing extraordinary, and has indeed reaffirmed the protracted crisis of overproduction characterized by the intensified plunder of natural resources, war, and the worsening oppression and exploitation of workers and peoples not just by the US but by other rising economic powers like Russia and China. The United States with or without the empty Paris Agreement will continue its path to imperialist domination. On the other hand, the Paris Agreement stands to offer false hopes and obfuscate the roots of the crisis.

Amid this backdrop, people’s movements around the world are uniting against the continuous plunder of their resources, and are working together to expose and oppose imperialism as the root cause of the climate crisis. In the past few years, immense climate marches have taken place, and more recently scientists have mobilized against climate denial. At the same time liberation movements have fought transnational corporations wreaking havoc on the environment and the peoples of countries like El Salvador, Colombia, India, and the Philippines.

More than anything, it is the people’s collective assertion of their right to life, a healthy planet, and sovereignty that can topple down the rotting system of imperialism. The people’s resistance against imperialist domination that aggravates the global environmental and climate crisis is key to a socially just, equitable, and environmentally sound system that puts people’s needs and the judicious use of resources at the heart of production.

Address the roots of the climate crisis!

Stop the exploitation of the people and the planet!

Down with US imperialism!

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