Why capitalism can’t solve global warming


More from “Confronting the climate change crisis

There are three major barriers against capitalism achieving the goal of reducing co2 emissions.

Changing from fossil fuels to other energy sources will require massive spending.

Such spending will not increase profits and thus will be anathema to most businesses. They will only do it when forced to by conditions or governments.

The CO2 reductions must be global.

If the reductions aren’t global, mandated, and enforceable, then little progress will be made, as companies will just move to whatever country has the most lax rules. Shutting down a few coal-burning plants in the US will have little effect if China build 500 new ones.

The change must be all-encompassing.

This is the kicker. Huge restructuring will be needed. Entire industries will vanish, to be replaced by new ones. You think the coal industry will go away quietly? Not a chance.

The problem is rooted in the very nature of capitalist society, which is made up of thousands of corporations, all competing for investment and for profits. There is no “social interest” in capitalism — only thousands of separate interests that compete with each other.

That’s the real problem. Under the predatory nature of capitalism, cooperation doesn’t exist, and cooperation on a global scale is precisely what is needed to stop global warming.