Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jeffrey Sachs writes that the fight against climate breakdown demands a concerted solution to global problem - rather than political wrangling over whether anybody will accept any responsibility for desperately-needed change. And Adam Tooze points out the foreseeable political threats posed by rising sea levels.

- James Wilt notes that a carbon tax at the levels on offer in Canada will fall far short of making a meaningful dent in our obligations - and argues that a relatively narrow issue placed front and centre for the political benefit of both the Cons and Libs is keeping us from having a necessary discussion about how to accomplish far more. And Harry Zehner writes about the problems with a neoliberal response to climate change:
In practice, neoliberalism favors the wealthy over the working class, the entrenched powers over social mobility and the individual over the collective good. It takes the training wheels off of global capitalism through deregulation and tax cuts, giving corporate powers free reign to raze the environment in the name of their bottom line. It chips away at the power of unions, collective action and the idea of social welfare, preferring to let a rigged market decide who prospers.
Neoliberalism doesn’t believe in systemic inequality. Instead, it tells those stuck in generational poverty that if only they worked harder and acted smarter, they would be rewarded by the free market’s unbiased invisible hand. The neoliberal ethos tells us climate change is a result of our personal habits, of our commute to work, of our diet, of our heating bill, while a handful of companies responsible for the vast majority of emissions get tax cuts and subsidies. Since its mainstream introduction by Thatcher and Reagan, neoliberal ideals have led to worsening wealth inequality, stagnant wages and a dwindling middle class.
It is this thinking that informs policies like Macron’s fuel tax.
The incentive-based logic behind the tax, that a high fuel price will lead people to switch to more efficient means of transportation, is faulty. Fossil fuel dependence is more than a personal choice, despite what the free-market enthusiasts would like you to believe. A working woman or man from France or the United States or Nigeria or Vietnam can’t respond to the brute force of a fuel tax if there’s no feasible alternative for them to turn to. Fossil fuel addiction exists on a structural level, not an individual one. 
By attempting to implement a surface level solution to a deeply ingrained problem, Macron handed the Right a talking point on a silver platter. His botched tax has likely set substantive climate action back years. At the same time, it has provided much needed clarity. There is only one path forward: governments must intervene to ensure affordable, ecologically friendly alternatives. Placing the burden of environmental healing on the working class isn’t just unfair; it’s impractical.
- Meanwhile, Mia Rabson reports on the Libs' claim that a move toward more efficient transportation may bridge the massive gap between the emission reductions they've promised and the policies they've offered.

- Karl Nerenberg points out how the Libs are alienating workers across the country even as they offer far more public resources to the oil sector than to other, cleaner forms of development.

- Nisha Kansal and Arnav Agarwal discuss the importance of health care as a human right, including for migrants who are currently excluded from the Canadian health care system.

- Finally, Lana Payne offers a few inspirational stories of activism to celebrate over the holidays and take as examples in the new year.

No comments:

Post a Comment