The primary objective is to stabilize the increase in the earth's temperature at + 1.5 ° C, hoping that the measurement is sufficient to curb the ongoing processes. Wisdom and the precautionary principle would demand stricter objectives, but considering the hostile forces in the field and the resistance that will be put in place, it is difficult to imagine being able to pursue more. To obtain this result it is necessary to "decarbonise". In short, it is necessary to subtract the economy from the grip of energy resources on which industrial development was based starting from the second half of the 18th century. "To decarbonise" means leaving oil, coal in the subsoil, gas and finding alternative forms of energy. Although these are more than acceptable statements, it is necessary to understand some aspects that will probably emerge as the movement takes shape.
Why "reduction" and not "immediate elimination"? The answer tends to refer to political reasons. It is always difficult to obtain radical changes immediately. But even if there was general agreement, would the total abandonment of carbon-based energy resources be possible?Unlikely. The immediate renunciation of carbon resources presupposes the availability of alternative energy sources of which, as of yet, we do not have availability for a complete replacement. Furthermore, many peoples, still in a state of serious poverty, are in urgent need of help and their problems can hardly be solved by canceling the availability of carbon-based energy resources. The abandonment of carbon would involve the use of biomass with a serious impact on that biodiversity that we would all like to defend for ethical and practical reasons.
Nor is it excluded that carbon must be used to operate certain machines in the future. In such a case there would be no absolute decarbonisation even in perspective. The problem would be reduced to: 1) emitting CO2 which can be absorbed by photosynthesis; 2) contain the use within limits that prevent health effects; 3) replace carbon wherever you can with other sources in order to remove the exhaustion of sources as much as possible.
If the outlined perspective is to be studied by sector experts, the immediate condition requires the rapid decarbonization of an extensive part of the world economy. But now a problem arises. Is it possible to decarbonise the economy today without depressing it? There is an environmentalist fable circulating - grabbed by the political world - which risks being taken on by new movements. According to this legend, it would be possible to maintain current lifestyles simply with the ecological conversion of the economy. It is a dangerous narrative that can lead us to complicated situations due to the repercussions that it would certainly cause (1). The partial (but large) decarbonisation of the economy necessary to avoid the coming apocalypse presupposes a vertical fall in the production of the OECD states and also a decisive slowdown of some of the BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa ) which, among other things, are the custodians of the last biodiversity coffers.
It would be a problem? It would be a huge problem! If we think about how much useless production surrounds us, we can lighten ourselves without as consumer lives registering the slightest suffering. But we should go further, much further. We should begin to affect part of that (albeit problematic) well-being that we have built since the second post-war period. In short, the new world would be unrecognizable, our habits would be transformed, social relations restructured. Probably this new world - despite a temporary, but acute austerity - would be better than what we could leave, because we would begin to restore the right importance to things and relationships. But as we well know, very strong resistance to change would emerge. A first resistance would come from entrepreneurs who profit from the sectors that would be canceled. But the problem would also involve workers in those sectors. Today, a factory or service business that closes condemns workers to the misery of unemployment, sometimes mitigated by some paltry state support with a temporary duration. Can someone be condemned when he mobilizes to support his family and life?
It is understood that we do not live within suitable institutions to carry out the drastic change that awaits us. The social network that must guarantee every human being the solidarity of all the others must be built from scratch. The picture, in its frame, is simple. Worker-consumers should divide their working hours and consumption into a condition of extreme austerity and social equality that will last a long time. But this implies the cancellation of the main modern institution: the private appropriation of profit; consequently the state of affairs would oblige the formation of new socialist institutions on national and internazional bases. Society would authentically become a "society" and not a bad metaphor for indicating an aggregate of individuals in mutual competition (2).
The concept must be reiterated because it is too important. Outside of socialist institutions, speaking of decarbonization means enunciating a meaningless term because of the explosive effect it would have on the living body of each affluent society. In the absence of new institutions, the cancellation of an infinite number of productions and jobs would lead to misery and suffering, something very different from austere frugality. Obviously the socialist institutions would imply the "socialization of the means of production" above all the strategic ones and the inevitable substantial reduction of the market economy. There is no other way.
If the picture, in its frame, is simple, it is not at all in its contents and in its realization modalities. All the more so since the transformation would face very tough opposition from both the expropriated owners and the producers / consumers of the eliminated economic sectors. The interests of the former and the resistance to change of the latter would create many problems, but the alternative is the precipitation of the world into a whirlwind of short-term tragedies. Decarbonization will distort the current social structure, bringing with it profound political transformations.
Now it is necessary to open another reflection. "Decarbonising" is a term strongly linked to the climate crisis. Sometimes it escapes that anthropogenic pressure has other fundamental implications. The immense extraction of resources from our planet produces three effects:
1. the destruction of the biotic community (the whole of the living community) on which the very existence of our species depends;
2. the progressive depletion of resources destined for future generations;
3. the inexorable production of waste destined to permanently deteriorate air, water, land and adversely affect the well-being and primary needs of individuals.
The first point is attested by the swirl of annihilation in which millions of species are made to disappear up to the terrifying threat of their disappearance by 50%. Since the health of our species depends on the health of the biotic community, it is easy to understand what future necropolitics is preparing for us. The second point is certified by UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) which presents the unsustainable sequence relating to the extraction of mineral resources expressed in billions of tons (GT):
→ 22 GT
This is an abrupt acceleration destined to break itself against the objective limits offered by our Planet (3). Finally, the third point is confirmed by the progressive deterioration suffered by our existence and the increase in morbidity in large collectives. When, for example, WHO says that more than 90% of the world's population breathes inadequate air for maintaining health, we should have reactions that, unfortunately, are still lacking2.
These facts force us to broaden the concept of "decarbonisation". Decarbonising means accepting the consequences of the reduction in the use of carbon products: but it also means reconfirming the need for a drastic reduction in production and consumption at least until the demography of the human population has stabilized on numbers compatible with the biocapacity of our planet. Only then can we get out of that state of serious scarcity that we will have to endure for a long time.
So there is no escaping a principle that all those who fight for a worthy future should keep in mind: the economy that saves the Earth, the human being, the environment, the other species, must entail a drastic decrease in production in the first instance, and of the population at a later date.
And it will certainly not be a happy degrowth due to the colossal social toxins it will trigger. We think what it will mean to eliminate the luxury, useless, death (weapons) industry. And then the free fall of the production of private transport vehicles, the elimination of exotic tourism, the drastic reduction of air transport, the end of breeding (including pets), the reduction of import-export to strategic or necessary resources. Furthermore, more will have to be eliminated along the path of rebuilding of a sustainable and basically stationary economy. At the end of this short comment we believe that the initial question can be summarized in the following points:
1. socialization of large and medium-sized means of production and reduction of the market economy at local level;
2. economy set on a drastic degrowth governed by renewed institutions with aims aimed at creating - in perspective - a quasi-stationary human society;
3. cancellation of the proprietary right and replacement of the same with a universal right of common goods.
1.s. https://mk0eeborgicuypctuf7e.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Decoupling-Debunked-FULL-for-ONLINE.pdf . where it is argued that the myth of "green growth" will lead to ecological collapse. The manifesto of 107 French scholars is in significant tune: https://atecopol.hypotheses.org/
2. Society does not exist, only individuals exist - said Mrs. Thather proposing the basic principle of the "methodological individualism" of the neoclassical economic school.
3. UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) report on raw materials published by various sources.