Saturday, December 12, 2015

Climate endgame

The Paris Agreement is going to have all sorts of pessimistic things said about it, many of them justified. We're probably going to spend the rest of our lives making the goals of it become realized as actual facts. But I don't see any likely way in which this isn't the climate endgame. The world system has substantially agreed that we're going to transition away from carbon. We also have the technology to do it. My best guess is that by 2050 it will be mostly done. This is very good news.

In various arguments among people on the left, many people were of the opinion that the neoliberal world system couldn't do this (and many will presumably continue to hold this opinion, the example of the Montreal Protocol implementation notwithstanding). I think that this was always a misdiagnosis of which class holds power and how that power is used. The managerial-bureaucratic neoliberals who are essentially in power everywhere are not James Bond villains who want to destroy the world so that they can rule a small fragment of it, or simple lackeys who are unable to go against any component of existing brick-and-mortar wealthy interests when the rest of their class has a rational interest in self-preservation. They already rule the system, and their continued rule is perfectly compatible with conversion over to clean energy, which they will continue to control the major infrastructure for. The apparent helplessness that they evince when confronting problems whose resolution would not be to the benefit of the 1% does not have to operate here, because nothing about fixing the climate problem -- which is the most important of our time and really does have to be fixed -- changes the mechanics of their control.

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