Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CLIMATE CHANGE: Socialist Transformation is the Pathway Out

Our world today is in a climate emergency – “a code red for humanity” according to the UN Secretary-General. The UN Environment Programme has declared a climate emergency for the entire world. Average global temperature keeps rising alarmingly, while the endless release of greenhouse gases continues to change the composition of the atmosphere. The global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period and total greenhouse gas emissions reached a new high of 59.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the same year. Reports say that we need to cut emissions by 7.6% per year to stop global warming from rising above 1.5°C, by 2030, while we also cut greenhouse gas emissions by half.

By Gideon Adeyeni

Already, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has indicated in a climate report that the world is getting closer to breaching the 1.5C global heating limit and confirmed that 2023 was the hottest year on record by a clear margin. (Guardian (London) March 19, 2024).

Africa, which is responsible for only 2-3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, has been reported to be the continent most susceptible to the effects of climate change. The continent continues to experience extreme weather events ranging from flood to droughts and heatwaves, leaving a trail of destruction and fatalities. Last year, Libya’s “medicane”-fueled floods, claimed over 11,300 lives in September, just as more than 3,000 people lost their lives due to flash floods in DR Congo and Rwanda and at least 860 people were killed during Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which affected Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Malawi, Réunion, and Zimbabwe, according to reports. Today, over 29 million people continue to face unrelenting drought conditions across Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Mauritania, and Niger.

Last December’s COP28 (the 28th UN climate change conference) has been hailed as a success by some observers because the first global agreement to address fossil fuels, which is the primary cause of climate change, was reached at the end of it. The establishment of a new fund to address the growing losses and damage that disadvantaged nations experience because of climate impacts, is also considered one of the wins of the summit. This is coupled with the “UAE Consensus” in Dubai, which is the outcome of the Global Stocktake, which is said to have addressed every aspect of climate change and sent important signals for transportation, energy, and the environment, thus providing guidance for the upcoming round of national climate commitments (NDCs), which is due in 2025. But how much does this mean, especially for Africa which continues to bear the brunt of the crisis while contributing less to?

While one of the outcomes of the conference is to shift away from fossil fuel, the economies of the top 10 oil producing countries on the continent still rely heavily on the commodity. The cost of adaptation keeps rising with every degree in rising temperatures, and Africa will require USD 52.7 billion per year for the next 20 years to reduce its climate vulnerability. Current investments in adaptation are insufficient, and hard limits are approaching in Africa.

Africa, alongside other global South economic blocs, pushed for the overhaul of the global financial architecture and multilateral development banks to deliver meaningful climate and development financing during COP28. But evidence show that the capitalist-based development financing model that the global financial architecture and multi-lateral development banks support are those that push African countries and other global South nations into indebtedness and a vicious circle of poverty and borrowing.

The US, the single biggest contributor to global emissions, has either refused to commit to major climate agreements or has pulled out. For instance, former American President Donald Trump pulled out of Paris Climate Agreements, while the country is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. Just as the US keeps dragging its feet in committing to addressing the climate crisis, China has also been caught up in doing the same, slowing down in making commitments which may hamper its economic expansion, much of which has been on the continent of Africa in the past decade. The COP 28 president, Sultan Al Jaber the UAE minister who is also head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, was reported to have said that ‘no science suggests phasing out fossil fuels is the only way to achieve the change outlined in the Paris Agreement’. What is obvious now is that these nations try to feign commitment to building a just future while retaining capitalism, which has more than shown itself incompatible with the building of a sustainable future and the future itself.

Within the quickly tightening window to reverse the damage done by the climate crisis, what is obvious is that only a systemic alternative offers a workable solution to the climate injustice which Africa bears the brunt. The socialist transformation of the human society internationally offers the only pathway towards the building of a just future, where Africa will not have to pay more for a crisis it contributes less to. The climate crisis calls for genuine international cooperation which socialism offers, as against the brutal cut-throat competition, trade wars and chaos among nations which capitalism promotes. As long as the capitalist system subsist, African nations will continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis, as the global financial system under capitalism has been structured to make Africa dependent on foreign capital while exporting resources in their crude forms. This also means that for countries like Nigeria which are dependent on oil production and exportation, it is difficult, on the basis of capitalism, to replace their dependence on oil. Hence, the struggle over climate crisis has to be linked with struggle for socialism globally. In the final analysis, working people and youth have to fight for Socialist change to end climate change.