On 29 March Momentum and People & Planet organised around 40 protests across the country targetting Barclay’s banks. The campaign needs to be radical and ambitious.
The campaign ‘Bankrupt Climate Change’ aims at applying pressure on Barclay’s to dis-invest from dangerous fossil fuel burning energy companies and fracking. Barclay’s ploughed $85bn into such enterprises in the last few years.
There has been some criticism on the left that focusing on the banks is at best a diversion, at worst a displacement activity for more radical demands.
I think that criticism for now is overly harsh. Highlighting the way that finance capital profits from environmental destruction isn’t a bad thing. It also bring the reality of the financial and economic mechanisms of how climate change happens to the high street, making it real for people.
The problem with climate change is that it is a systematic issue. This isn’t the Poll Tax or stopping a war. It is about the literal destruction of the planet and the collapse of human civilisation because capitalism as a system of production is so destructive it will results in environmental degredation on a scale previously unimaginable.
Faced with that it can be impossible to think what you can do. The Climate Strikes by students have been impressive, but they are only protests. Protests on their own are just a cry of desperation in the face of power. The question is how can you stop the machine? How can we smash the cogs and levers of this odious machine that is destroying out planet.
Targetting the banks as high street representatives of the flows of capital through the arteries of this machine is a useful first step. However the campaign cannot remain only at the level of targetting the banks. We need to also turn to and go through the labour movement to get better policies from Labour. I believe that the ‘grand demand’ needs to be for the nationalisation of energy production with a view to a planned and rapid shift of energy production away from fossil fuels and towards renewables, with a target of 50% emissions reduction by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
This should be Labour policy – with all of the Green New Deal economics that flow from it.
In the unions, we need to see some serious pressure put on Unite to shift their position. Their opposition to scrapping Trident was only the beginning, now they are playing a pernicious and dangerous role in supporting industrial and economic projects, like Heathrow expansion, which are contributing to the death of the planet.