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How to stop climate change? Nationalise the oil companies

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25.04.2019

If only the Daily Express was right. That is not a sentence I ever expected to type. “Extinction Rebellion protests have WORKED as MPs succumb to calls for change”, bellowed the rightwing rag. Alas, the government has not capitulated to demands to declare a climate emergency, let alone to decarbonise the British economy by 2025. But Extinction Rebellion has retaught a lesson every generation must learn: that civil disobedience works. Amid the spluttering of obnoxious news presenters, it has forced the existential threat of climate change on to the airwaves and into newsprint.

But as this phase of protest winds down, the demands must radicalise. With capitalism itself rightly being challenged, the focus must shift to the fossil fuel companies and the banks. As long as they remain under private ownership on a global scale, humanity’s future will be threatened.

Take ExxonMobil, which plans to pump an astonishing 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than it did in 2017. As that well-known bastion of eco-socialism, the Economist, puts it: “If the rest of the industry pursues even modest growth, the consequence for the climate could be disastrous,” adding that “the market cannot solve climate change by itself”. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if we wish to prevent global temperatures rising by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – beyond which climate disasters multiply – then oil and gas production has to fall by 20% by 2030, and 55% by 2050. However, the economic........

© The Guardian