Written by David Klein and first published at TruthOut
“Rapidly spreading solar technology could change everything,” announced a piece in the Financial Times, which also explained that, “there is growing evidence that some fundamental changes are coming that will over time put a question mark over investments in old energy systems.”
Globally, oil consumption grew by 1.8 percent, natural gas by 3 percent and coal consumption increased by 1 percent. The key point is that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are increasing even as renewable energy use is growing.
The pie is getting bigger and bigger while the fossil fuel slice is growing longer (which is bad) but thinner (which is good). Which process wins out? As long as fossil fuel use is not decreasing, it doesn’t matter for the climate.
Unfortunately, even a rapidly increasing percentage of green energy production is unlikely to achieve that under capitalist market forces.
A recent economic study, published in Nature Climate Change predicted that a sudden decrease in the value of fossil fuels — triggered by low renewable energy prices — would cause the carbon bubble to burst, and under the assumption of continuing trends, such an event will likely occur before 2035.
Although the trajectory towards a low-carbon economy would continue, to keep within [2 degrees Celsius] above pre-industrial levels — the limit set under the Paris agreement — would require much stronger government action and new policies.”
Capitalism, by its very nature, must expand unendingly and it has already surpassed the limits of sustainable growth in the sense that global consumption now exceeds the planet’s bio-capacity to regenerate the resources consumed. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 1.6 Earths would be required to meet the demands humanity makes on nature each year.
Capitalism is not only incapable of responding adequately to the environmental crisis, it is the very cause of the crisis and can only make matters worse.
It means drastically cutting back or closing down not only fossil fuel companies, but the industries that depend on them, including automobile, aircraft, airline, shipping, petrochemical, construction, agribusiness, lumber, pulp and paper, and wood product companies, industrial fishing operations, factory farming, junk food production, private water companies, packaging and plastic, disposable products of all sorts, and above all, the war industries. The Pentagon is the single largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy.