The Conflict Is Econo-Political
A coincidence? Just before William Nordhaus won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on October 8, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claimed that the impact of global warming would be more catastrophic than predicted earlier! The UN panel said that large changes in public policy were urgently needed to limit the catastrophic consequences of rising temperatures. It further warned that we would have just 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe!
It’s difficult to explain the human contribution to global warming without analysing the capitalist system. It’s the capitalist system (or capitalism) that has helped develop the human civilisation at tremendous speed over the last century. At the same time, the system has also triggered the global warming. A twist of fate?
Nordhaus says: ‘No’. The disaster is inevitable, if the market determines how the capitalist system will use the environment! Market is concerned only about profit and loss. It can’t take care of externality and that has been proved by economic theories. It is very much applicable in externality related to the environment, as this externality is not limited to a particular country, but also to time.
So, it’s useless to justify the issue in the pretext of temptation (in a capitalist structure). Most probably, (even) the Chicago School will not claim that there is no need to control the market. As far as the externality (related to the environment) is concerned, the state and the international organisations should have the controlling power. Production is important and its growth, too, is highly recommended.
However, it is equally important to determine how much we will use the environment in order to maximise the production. The UN certainly made serious attempts to draw a red line through the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Accord. Unfortunately, the IPCC has claimed that the efforts were not enough to protect the environment, as there were some serious flaws. We should not blame the UN for the failure, as the success of the world body depends on the seriousness of its member-states. If a person, like Donald Trump, becomes the leader of the world’s most powerful state, then how could the environment get its due importance?
Therefore, it’s not a conflict between capitalism and environment. It’s purely a political conflict and the politics is highly influenced by the capital! On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the US would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change Mitigation, saying: “The Paris accord will undermine (the US) economy” and “puts (the US) at a permanent disadvantage“. Undoubtedly, the business lobbies had prompted the US president to make such announcement. But, those lobbies and capitalism are not synonymous.
The Indian industrialists – who violate the environmental rules on a regular basis – may be the close associates of the top political leadership in New Delhi, but certainly not the symbol of capitalism. They are the symbols of flunkey-ism. Instead of being responsible persons, they are interested only in making profits by gaining political favour.
Now, the main challenge is to control the flunkey-ism. The vested interest of the flunkies should not influence the politics. Also, the flunkies should not be allowed to ignore the environment in the pretext of nationalism. Seemingly, it has become a duty of capitalism to put more and more emphasis over nature in order to survive and ensure a broad-based development!
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