By Paul Lewis
The failed climate change talks in Copenhagen last week demonstrated how climate change has become a central aspect of the international class struggle.
By failing to agree binding terms to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the capitalist nations, led by the USA, have demonstrated that they are prepared to allow the avoidable suffering of hundreds of millions of Africans, Asians, Caribbeans and Latin Americans, rather than risk a challenge to its model of capitalist imperialism that has dominated humanity for over two centuries. As Muhammed Chowdhury, a lead negotiator of the G77 group of 132 developing countries, explained: “The hopes of millions of people from Fiji to Grenada, Bangladesh to Barbados, Sudan to Somalia have been buried. The summit failed to deliver beyond taking note of a watered-down Copenhagen accord reached by some 25 friends of the Danish chair, head of states and governments. They dictated the terms at the peril of the common masses.”1
This dynamic demonstrates one of the most basic propositions of Marxism – that a class can only take society forward if it represents not only its own narrow interests but also the wider interests of humanity as a whole. The bourgeoisie is incapable of this. Last week in Copenhagen we saw the inherent conflict between capital’s particular interests and those of the future development of human civilisation.