The UK is woefully unprepared for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, according to a damning new report by the government’s own advisory body.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), tasked with reviewing Britain’s national climate plans, has concluded that the government has failed to achieve any of its adaptation targets so far.
And what’s worse, the CCC concludes that the Tories have effectively sat on their hands as the planet continues to warm, wasting valuable time and putting more lives at risk.
Climate change is not just a problem for future generations to deal with; it is already having concrete effects on workers’ lives. This will only get worse over the coming decades.
Last year was the warmest on record in the UK. Temperatures broke 40°C for the first time in history; large areas experienced prolonged droughts; and more than 25,000 wildfires broke out.
The result was chaos across Britain’s already crumbling infrastructure. Railways buckled. Roads melted. And reservoirs ran dry.
All of this was entirely predictable. And yet the British ruling class has done next to nothing to prepare for these impacts, let alone plan for the dangers that lie ahead.
The CCC reviewed the government’s climate adaptation plans across 13 key sectors of the economy. It found that only five out of 45 important policy areas had a ‘fully credible’ strategy in place, and that none at all were making progress to improve resilience.
The Committee’s report highlights several major issues: the fact that millions of UK homes overheat; that the food supply is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, both here and internationally; and that the country’s internet infrastructure is at risk from extreme weather.
Despite the government being well aware of these vulnerabilities, however, almost nothing is being done to address them.
The probable impacts of climate change have been well known for decades. Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years, only to be dismissed or ignored by the ruling class.
The fact is that the capitalists only care about one thing: profit. And it is their system that is to blame for the environmental disaster knocking on the world’s door.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the same capitalist governments that are unable to prevent the planet from heating up, are also incapable of preparing for the inevitable impacts of climate change on all aspects of society.
All countries are facing the consequences of the climate crisis. But Britain is proving especially vulnerable amongst the so-called ‘advanced’ capitalist countries. This is a reflection of the special crisis of British capitalism.
Decades of privatisation and underinvestment in infrastructure have led the UK economy into a particularly precarious and parlous state.
Similarly, Britain was especially hit hard by the COVID pandemic, and has experienced the weakest economic ‘recovery’ of the G8 countries. This fragility underlies the UK’s complete lack of preparedness for climate change.
The technology and know-how to adapt to climate change already exists. But instead of large-scale public investment in such measures – which would eat into the profits of the capitalists – austerity is on the order of the day.
As with all crises under capitalism, it is the working class and the poor who will be hit the hardest by the impacts of climate change.
Whilst the capitalists can easily afford air conditioning and other costs, workers are forced to struggle with increasingly unbearable living and working conditions, and rising prices.
We are already in a situation where, in the winter, the poorest households are choosing between heating and eating. Now, in the summer, it is becoming a choice between cooling the heat and making ends meet.
And whilst the situation is bad in Britain, an ‘advanced’ capitalist country, those countries bled dry by imperialism have no ability to prepare.
These are the inherent limitations of the capitalist system – of production for profit and the nation state. Capitalism is killing the planet.
Capitalism has created a crisis that it cannot solve – one that humanity will be experiencing for generations to come. This is feeding into the growing resentment towards the rich and powerful, and pouring further fuel on the fires of class struggle.
To fight global warming and its consequences, we urgently need a mass programme of investment into infrastructure and buildings, including affordable, energy-efficient, climate-resilient housing and workplaces.
This must come on top of an accelerated transition to renewable technologies and green energy supplies.
The money to fund such programmes exists. But it sits in the bank accounts of the billionaires and oil barons, who are making mega-profits from destroying the planet.
These parasitic polluters must be expropriated, as part of a wider socialist economic plan, with those who really produce the wealth in society put in control: the working class.
Only through a socialist system – built on democratic workers’ ownership and control of the key levers of the economy, worldwide – can we prepare for the impacts of climate change.
And only by removing profit from the equation can we start to repair the damage that has already been done, and prevent a climate catastrophe.