The 350 ppm Carbon Dioxide Challenge and How to Achieve it

There are many within the climate movement who, if truth be told, would prefer it if the lefts now deeply serious, and increasingly sophisticated, engagement with the climate challenge were to be, well, soft-pedaled. The left, after all, is still dangerous place to be, particularly in the US.

We do not rank ourselves within this tendency. For one thing, we do not believe that the climate crisis can be managed without real (if not absolute) economic justice, and this alone puts us on the left. For another, the question that most concerns us is global emergency mobilization, and at this point were not at all sure that the existing social formation (to quote Immanuel Wallenstein) is up to the job.

In this context, The 350 ppm Carbon Dioxide Challenge and How to Achieve it, a little essay by one Renfrey Clarke, can only be praised. It contains a few nuances that we could quibble with, but the overall framing of Clarkes argument, and his angry tone, are entirely justifiable. And, frankly, he is a reasonable man:

To argue that the capitalist system cannot afford to deal with climate change is thus at least technically wrong. The system has paid a similar or much greater cost in order to meet previous challenges. The central reason why the nettle of climate change is not being grasped is that private capital is exactly that private, required to produce profit for specific people and corporations. Combating climate change means profits foregone, in the case of oil left in the ground and stranded assets, in the case of coal export facilities made idle. Both the oil and the coal trains are owned by particular corporations, able to lobby politicians, influence media outlets and fund political parties and candidates.

There is nothing here to disagree with.