From the April 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard
At election times it often suits politicians to make sympathetic noises about environmental issues, but after the elections are over the same politicians can usually find "practical considerations" that make them have "re-appraisals" of previous "policy statements". This cynical manipulation is rife throughout the capitalist world, but it is doubtful if any of the political con-men could beat President Bush for the rapidity of his volte-face on the environment.
"In a letter to Republican Senators, Bush reversed his election campaign promise to limit C02 emissions from coal-fired plants, saying a new study shows it would be too expensive. He also reiterated his opposition to the Kyoto protocol, a 1997 agreement which aims to reduce greenhouse gases in the industrialised countries by 5.2 per cent by 2012" (New Scientist, 15 March).
This is of course, the crux of the matter—cost. We live in a capitalist world based on commodity production with the aim of obtaining a profit. In competing with other capitalists, both nationally and globally, it is necessary to drive down costs in order to grab a bigger share of the market. In such a cut-throat society environment considerations count for little, except perhaps a little electioneering rhetoric. With the USA putting the interests of their capitalist class before the needs of the planet the future looks grim indeed.
"The reversal was a blow to Kyoto supporters, since limits on power plants are probably necessary for the US to reach the goals. Christopher Flavin, President of the WorldWatch Institute says: 'It is essential since those plants are one of the main reasons for the recent sharp increase in US C02 emissions. In the last two years, the US has passed China to be the world's number one coal burner'" (New Scientist, 15 March)