Wednesday 9 November 2022

Extract From: Ecosocialism Not Extinction

Written by Allan Todd (2022) 

“The central preomise of ecosocialism, already suggested by the term itself, is that non-ecological socialism is a dead end, and a non-socialist ecology cannot confront the present ecological crisis.”  

[Michael Löwy, Ecosocialism: a Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe, 2015, p.xi] 

As a clear and concise explanation of the nature of ecosocialism, the above quotation from Michael Löwy would be difficult to better.

Essentially, ecosocialists recognise that, because of the profound crises currently facing humanity and the rest of the planet’s species, both the socialist and the ‘green’ projects need to be redefined.  These multiple and interlinked crises - climate, ecological, economic, social and political - mean that, in the twenty-first century, it is no longer simply a question of either trying to ‘green’ parts of capitalism, or even replacing capitalism with twentieth-century conceptions of socialism.  We need to have an ecologically-sustainable planet, because, quite simply, there can be no viable life, let alone socialism, on a dangerously-degraded planet. Given the failures and part-failures of the COP process, it is now absolutely clear that capitalism cannot deliver that ecologically-sustainable planet… 

Climate Crisis

For ecosocialists, it is now abundantly clear that capitalism is creating dangerous - and possibly fatal - ruptures in the Earth System. Yet, even today, many activists in social movements and centre-left parties are failing to grasp just what is likely to be coming round the corner if serious climate action is not taken in the next few years.  To put it starkly, we are currently living through the greatest crisis in human history: a crisis consisting of several unprecedented but linked crises. If these crises are not radically and quickly addressed, the result will almost certainly be the collapse of human civilisation as we know it.  Or, at the most extreme, the extinction of huge numbers of most of the species on this planet, including humans… 

Ecological/Biodiversity Crisis

One rapidly accelerating, impact of global heating is the loss of species - so much so, that it is now generally accepted by experts that we are living through the sixth mass extinction of animal and plant species in Earth’s history, with an extinction rate 1000 times higher than the normal rate. And this is what is happening now, when the increase in the average global temperature is around 1.3oc. Yet, in 2012, the World Bank had reported that scientists were almost unanimously predicting that, if no significant policy changes were undertaken, then the average global temperature would have risen by 4oc by the end of this century - and possibly by as early as 2060. 

A study in 2018 predicted that such a rise in average global temperature would see up to half of animal and plant species becoming extinct by the end of the century. While, in 2019, a UN study predicted that some one million species are facing extinction in the near future.  Such a collapse in biodiversity would put human communities at risk, as a result of loss of food sources, pollution of fresh water systems and the oceans, and erosion of natural defences against extreme weather events. Yet, so far, most pledges made at the various COP meetings have yet to be fully implemented.  Of particular concern is the fact that earlier predictions regarding the timing and intensity of the impacts of global heating have proved to be too optimistic….

Origins of ecosocialism

As a succession of modern ecosocialist writers, including John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett, have convincingly established, there has long been a close connection between socialism and ecology. This connection goes back to Karl Marx who, in the second half of the nineteenth century, developed several key ecological ideas on the relationship between human activity - more precisely, capitalist activity - and nature. 

As early as the 1850s, Marx drew attention to what he called the dangerous ‘metabolic rift’ - or unsustainable ecological dislocation - that capitalism, because of its built-in drive for continuously-increasing production and ever-rising profits, inevitably creates between humans and the rest of the natural world. Essentially, the capitalist mode of production and accumulation treats nature as capital to be exploited, and ignores the Earth’s planetary boundaries to growth.  In the early 1860s, Marx also became interested in the concept of the atmospheric ‘greenhouse effect’, which was just being raised by the Irish physicist, John Tyndall. Marx made the point that neither human societies in general, nor private companies in particular, own the natural world, and that therefore they should not degrade it. Instead, Marx argued that each generation had a duty to pass it down to succeeding generations “in an improved condition.” 

Engels, too, also produced ecological writings, commenting on capitalism’s increasingly destructive impact on nature, of which we are a part, and on which our survival as a species ultimately depends. As early as the 1840s, he wrote of the environmental and industrial pollution associated with capitalist manufacture and urbanisation.  Sadly, some of Engels’ work on ecological matters - as with some of Marx’s writings - were not widely disseminated at the time, indeed some were not published until decades after they were written. Thus they were largely unknown to those who nonetheless saw themselves as socialists or Marxists. 

Engels, for instance, in The Dialectics of Nature (an unfinished work from 1883, not published until 1925), warned about the possible consequences of our interference with nature, and commented that humans should not be fooled by apparent ‘victories’ over nature, because of unforeseen effects: “For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us.”  […], it is possible to see the emergence of Covid-19 as an example of nature taking its revenge on us… 

Why we need it

 The various COPs - even those of COP21 in Paris in 2015, and COP26 in 2021 in Glasgow - have mostly been problematic, in that the majority of the pledges made have rarely been implemented in any meaningful way. This is, in part, because they are not legally binding. To a large extent this is down to the relentless lobbying of politicians by those corporations most likely to be impacted by the pledges made by the countries involved in the COP process… 


 As well as taking action within Britain, it is also vital to make international connections and to co-operate with like-minded organisations across the world. The reach of capitalism is global and so should be our response. Ecosocialists attempt to develop practical solutions at all levels: local, regional, national, continental and global. Ultimately, if we are to mitigate and then end today’s multiple crises across the globe, we need an international ecosocialist coalition of radicals - rather like the Zimmerwald Movement which developed in 1915-16 during the crisis of WW1. The formation of the Global Ecosocialist Network in 2020 - to raise awareness of ecosocialist arguments - was a really useful step in the right direction… 

Join us in this vital struggle. Help us to bring together environmental and social justice campaigns with trade union struggles and begin to build a movement capable of winning. 

As is increasingly clear to many, with corporations, governments and mainstream parties refusing to put climate protection before capitalist profits, the choice facing us and most of the other species on this heating-up planet is, quite simply: ‘either ecosocialism - or capitalist barbarism and extinction!’ Whilst it is necessary to fight hard for all the reforms, mitigations and policies we can force from governments, ultimately we will have to make a decisive break with the logic of capitalism itself.  As Marx would (probably!) have said if he were alive today:

“People of the world unite, rise up, and ACT!  You have a planet to save!”

The full booklet is available from: Resistance Books 

Allan Todd is a climate and anti-fascist activist, and a member of Left Unity’s National Council and of Anti-Capitalist Resistance. He is the author of Revolutions 1789-1917 (CUP) and Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary (Pen & Sword). His next book is Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary.

Friday 4 November 2022

COP27- Still Fiddling While the World Burns - Ecosocialist Alliance Statement

Ecosocialist Alliance has released a statement ahead of the COP27 meeting at the heavily fortified Sharm El-Sheikh resort, in Egypt.

In England on 5 November, people celebrate the averting of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, known as the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ of 1605. It is sometimes named after one of the plotters as ‘Guy Fawkes Night,’ but also as ‘Bonfire Night.’ From 1606 when the authorities encouraged people to light bonfires on the anniversary, the night has seen fireworks and bonfires across the country. An effigy of Guy Fawkes is often burnt, but these days, in some places, current political leaders and others are used as the effigies.  

So, it is appropriate that this date is chosen on the eve of COP27, for Ecosocialist Alliance to release this statement. The whole planet is in danger of becoming a bonfire, with the United Nations warning we are on track for at least 2.5C to 2.8C increases in temperature, which will be devastating.

These COP meetings are largely a photo opportunity for world leaders, but nothing solid ever comes out of them. We need to adopt a programme something like this statement, before it is too late, and the planet burns.    

COP27- Still Fiddling While the World Burns

COP 27, which will meet from the 6th - 18th November 2022, unfolds against a backdrop of growing climate chaos and ecological degradation. As this latest COP approaches, economic recession, increased poverty and war run alongside the multiple interlinked and inseparable crises of climate, environment, extinction and zoonotic diseases. We now face a global economic recession likely to be deeper even than that of 2008.

The economic spiral into recession will make addressing environmental crisis even more difficult, as states and corporations rush to increase fossil fuel production to offset the deepening energy crisis. They will try to make working people pay with their living standards and their lives, for the crisis of their rotten system. Resources which should be directed at adaptation and amelioration of the climate crisis will be diverted to war and fossil fuel production including dangerous Fracking and Underground Coal Gasification (UCG).

We face increasingly destructive wars, most notably in Ukraine which is destabilising world food supplies, and which has the potential for the use of nuclear weapons. War causes huge physical and social damage to people and societies and the military industrial processes produce 6% of all greenhouse gasses. The impact of wars in Ukraine, Yemen, Palestine and other places in terms of human and environmental cost, and on food production and energy costs, will continue to exacerbate the crises facing the environment and the global economy. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must not be the pretext for a rush to fossil fuels, new coal and gas and the resumption of fracking. Quite the opposite- it should be a spur to shift more rapidly towards renewables.

As Ecosocialists, we say another world is possible. A massive social and political transformation is needed, requiring the mobilisation of the mass of working people, women and men, across the globe. Only the end of capitalism’s relentless pursuit of private profit, endless waste, and rapacious drive for growth, can provide the basis for a solution not only to climate change, environmental degradation, and mass extinction, but to global poverty, hunger, and hyper exploitation.

The COP 27 conference will take place in an isolated, heavily policed tourist resort, with only one major road in and out, and hotels charging rates that will likely push the entire COP beyond the means of many grassroots organisations, especially those from poorer countries in the Global South. The Egyptian government say there will be room for opposition, but what they mean, is that activists will be offered fake protests opportunities where state-affiliated NGOs demonstrate around the convention giving the impression of an independent local civil society. No real Egyptian or other opposition will be allowed near Sharm El-Sheikh. We send solidarity to Egypt’s climate campaigners, women’s organisations, Trade Unionists and workers fighting for democracy.

2022 has seen floods in Pakistan, directly affecting thirty-three million people, Australia and elsewhere. We have seen wildfires, extreme heat, ice melt, drought, and extreme weather events on many continents, yet governments pursue still more fossil fuel production. 2022’s summer of disasters broke records worldwide. In 2021, global sea level set a new record high and is projected to continue to rise. The United Nations reports that research shows that women and children are up to fourteen times more likely than men to die during climate disasters.

The big issues of climate change will be debated in Egypt but whatever is agreed, capitalism left to itself can at best mitigate, not end them. Environmental destruction is woven into the very fabric of the system itself. However, much big business resists, we will have to force it to act on a global scale. Ultimately, only the ending of capitalism itself and its replacement by democratic Ecosocialist planned production for need and not private profit can guarantee the necessary action.

Genuine climate solutions cannot be based on the very market system that created the problem. Only the organised working class, and the rural oppressed of the global south -women and men have the power to end capitalism, because their labour produces all wealth and they have no great fortune to lose if the system changes, no vested interests in inequality, exploitation, and private profit.

Sustainability and global justice

The long-term global crisis and the immediate effects of catastrophic events impact more severely on women, children, elders, LGBTQIA+, disabled people and the people of First Nations. An eco-socialist strategy puts social justice and liberation struggles of the oppressed at its core.

Migration is, and will increasingly be, driven by climate change and conflicts and resource wars resulting from it. Accommodating and supporting free movement of people must be a core policy and necessary part of planning for the future.

Action now to halt climate change!

We demand:

•           All new fossil fuels must stay in the ground – no new gas, coal, or oil! No to Fracking and UCG!

•           A rapid move to renewable energy for transport, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and homes.

•           A massive global programme of public works investing in green jobs, and replacing employment in unsustainable industries.

•           The retrofitting of homes and public buildings with insulation and other energy saving measures to reduce fuel use and to address fuel poverty.

•           A globally funded just transition for the global south to develop the necessary sustainable technologies and infrastructure.

•           A major cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 70% by 2030, from a 1990 baseline. This must be comprehensive - including all military, aviation, and shipping emissions – and include mechanisms for transparent accounting, measurement, and popular oversight.

•           The end of emissions trading schemes.

•           No to ‘offsetting’ of carbon emissions- we need a real zero not net-zero.

We call for:

•           Immediate cancellation of the international debt of the global south.

•           A rapid shift from massive factory farms and large-scale monoculture agribusiness towards eco-friendly farming methods and investment in green agricultural technology to reduce synthetic fertiliser and pesticide use in agriculture and replace these with organic methods and support for small farmers.

•           A massive reduction in meat and dairy production and consumption, with a view to its phasing out, through education and provision and promotion of high- quality, affordable plant-based alternatives.

•           The promotion of agricultural systems based on the right to food and food sovereignty, human rights, and with local control over natural resources, seeds, land, water, forests, knowledge, and technology to end food and nutrition insecurity in the global south.

•           The end of deforestation in the tropical and boreal forests by reduction of demand for imported food, timber, and biofuels.

•           A massive increase in protected areas for biodiversity conservation.

•           End fuel poverty through retrofitting energy existing homes and buildings with energy efficient sustainable technologies.

We demand a just transition:

•           Re-skilling of workers in environmentally damaging industries with well-paid alternative jobs in the new economy.

•           Full and democratic involvement of workers to harness the energy and creativity of the working people to design and implement new sustainable technologies and decommission old unsustainable ones.

•           Resources for popular education and involvement in implementing and enhancing a just transition, with environmental education embedded at all levels within the curriculum.

•           Urgent development of sustainable, affordable, and high-quality public transport with a comprehensive integrated plan which meets peoples’ needs and reduces the requirement for private car use.

•           A planned eco-socialist economy which eliminates waste, duplication and environmentally harmful practices, reduction in the working week and a corresponding increase in leisure time.

•           Work practices reorganised with the emphasis on fair flexibility and working closer to home, using a free and fast broadband infrastructure.

•           An end to ecologically and socially destructive extractivism, especially in the territories of Indigenous peoples and First Nations .

•           Respect for the economic, cultural, political and land rights of Indigenous peoples and First Nations.

As eco-socialists we put forward a vision of a just and sustainable world and fight with every ounce of our energy for every change, however small, which makes such a world possible. We will organise and assist wherever worker’s and community organisations internationally, raising demands on governments and challenging corporations.

If you would like to support the statement or contact Ecosocialist Alliance please email

Ecosocialist Alliance, October 2022


Left Unity, UK

Anti-Capitalist Resistance, UK

Green Left, UK

Global Ecosocialist Network, International

RISE, Ireland

Parti de Gauche Marseille Nord, France

Socialist Project, Canada

Breakthrough Party, UK

People Before Profit, Ireland

Climate and Capitalism, International

XR Camden, UK

Anti-Fracking Nanas, UK

West Cumbria Friends of the Earth, UK

Save Euston Trees, UK

Ecosocialist Alliance UK Facebook Group, UK


Beatrix Campbell, OBE, Writer, UK

George Monbiot, Environmental Writer & Activist, UK

Ken Loach, Film maker, UK

Julia Steinberger, Professor of Ecological Economics, Lausanne University, Switzerland

Victor Wallis, author of Red Green Revolution, USA

Professor Krista Cowman ,Historian, UK

Marina Prentoulis, Associate Professor in Politics & Media, UEA; author of Left Populism in Europe, UK

Romayne Phoenix, Ecosocialist Campaigner, UK

Dr Jay Ginn, (retired academic researcher, UK

Alistair Sinclair Green Eco-Socialist Councillor, Lancaster City Council, UK

Clara Paillard, Unite the Union & Tipping Point UK, UK

Felicity Dowling, Left Unity Principal Speaker, UK

Derek Wall, Former GPEW Principal Speaker; Political Economy Lecturer, Goldsmiths; Author of Climate Strike,UK

Rob Marsden, Red Green Labour editorial board- personal capacity, UK

Jo Alberti, veteran left activist, UK

Doug Thorpe, Left Unity National Secretary, UK

Kevin Frea, Deputy Leader, Lancaster City Council, UK

Dee Searle, One Vote for the Planet activist, UK

Jim Hollinshead, Left Unity, UCU, UK

Ed Bober, UK

Patrick Fitzgerald, Artist, Vizcaya, Spain

Allan Todd, Climate & Anti-Fascist Activist; member of Left Unity’s NC, UK

Gordon Peters, Ecosocialist activist, UK

Tim Dawes, Former Chair Green Party of England and Wales; Rtrd. Senior Local Govt. Officer/Consultant, UK

Joe Human. climate activist, UK

Fiona Prior, Climate activist, grandmother, UK

Peter Murry, Ecosocialist activist, UK

Lucy Moy-Thomas, Climate Emergency Camden, UK

Tina Rothery, Climate Campaigner, UK

Dr. Richard Nicholson, Haywards Heath Town Councillor, UK

Sally Lansbury, Labour Party Cllr., Allerdale Borough Council, UK

Deanna Austin-Crowe, Health Worker, UK

Chris Bluemel, Musician & Activist, UK

Lucy Early, Ecosocialist Alliance member, UK

Joseph Healy, International Officer of Left Unity & UNITE Regional Officer, UK

Al Barnes, Paramedic & XR Activist, UK

Steve Masters, Climate activist and Green party councillor, UK

Alice Brown, One Vote for the Planet, UK

Jane Walby, Global Justice Now, Camden Fairtrade Network, Debt Justice, UK

Dorothea Hackman, Save Euston Trees, UK

Penelope Read, Eco-Warrior, Actor & Musician, UK

Samantha Barnes, Solicitor, UK

Charlotte Christensen, Mum & Anarchist, UK

Howard Coakley, University Mental Health Mentor, and Activist, UK 

Joe Hill, Germany

Bob Whitehead, Secretary of the West Midlands Climate Coalition, UK