Ever since Greta Thunberg started striking against global climate change in August 2018, millions of youth have been inspired to join her. In countries all over the globe, school students defied the threats of head-teachers, lawmakers and governments in order to do what is right. A global movement has formed that is calling to fight against climate change and for climate justice.
The Revolutionary Socialist Movement sees itself as an integral part of this movement. Our sister groups all across the globe are active in building youth and workers groups that challenge the powerful and their policies that deny any meaningful action against the nearing catastrophe and potential extinction of the human race.
We support the call for action of the activists who initiated the national day of action in Pakistan, mobilised and participated wherever possible. A series of the activists’ demands, such as the demand to cancel Pakistan’s debts and instead receive no strings attached international support to tackle the effects of environmental disaster, are correct and should be supported by the whole movement. The manifesto accepts that it is late capitalism that has caused this crisis. It pinpoints the severity of the crisis in Pakistan to the particular role that western imperialism played globally and in the Subcontinent.
But we also think that the current “Climate Action Now” manifesto stops halfway. If it is late capitalism that is responsible, and the respective capitalist class and government in Pakistan which is complicit in it, how can we stop climate change, let alone bring about climate justice, without dismantling the entire system? We do think that to prevent climate change, an actual system change is needed. This system change has to be international, and it has to be socialist. All the major problems in Pakistan, from the agrarian crisis to the crisis of land and cities, water and air pollution, as well as the energy crisis and the economic crisis are not only connected to the climate crisis, they are connected to capitalism in Pakistan and a Pakistani bourgeoisie that has been complicit in destroying our livelihood, even if on a minor scale compared to eco-imperialists like Donald Trump or Xi Jinping.
If we want to win this social struggle, which will not only be decisive about our generations, but the human race’s future, we need to forge strong alliances that can bring change. While we think it can be correct to call on governments to implement immediate reforms, it is important to remember that it is the rich and powerful sitting in the assemblies who profit from the capitalist system in its current form. They will only concede under pressure from the workers, peasants, women’s and youth movements. We, therefore, think that it is dangerous to commend a government which has slashed the budget to tackle climate change by more than half and under whose auspices a series of new coal plants are under construction. While the poor work and die in the heat or from the effects of floods, the governments are advised by capitalists like Abdul Razak Dawood who are precisely the people who bear the responsibility both for the misery of the working class and for climate change. Therefore, we think that the subject for change needs to be the downtrodden who are starting to experience climate change first, and have been experiencing it for decades now. They should not only be “involved in the decision-making process” of an otherwise unchanged power structure and capitalist market economy. What we need is a complete social and environmental revolution that establishes a democratic and planned economy, which actually produces based on the needs of the broader society and on sustainable grounds.
We do not claim that we have the ultimate plan and programme on how to tackle climate change in Pakistan. But we are of the opinion that only such a revolutionary strategy can help us develop it. At the same time, we want to engage in an honest but open debate with all those who want to build the environmental movement in Pakistan.