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Capitalism Created The Climate Catastrophe

Vijay Prashad

The United States has been far and away the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions since 1750. The main carbon emitters were all colonial powers, namely the US, Europe, Canada, and Australia, which, despite consisting of roughly one tenth of the global population, have together accounted for more than half of cumulative global emissions. Carbon-fuelled capitalism, enriched by the wealth stolen through colonialism, has enabled the countries of Europe and North America to enhance the well-being of their populations and attain their relatively advanced level of development. The extreme inequalities between the standard of living for the average European (748 million people) and the average Indian (1.4 billion people) is seven times greater than it was a century ago... “Green capitalism” purports to mitigate the symptoms of capitalism – global warming, the mass extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems – without transforming the model of accumulation and consumption that caused the climate crisis in the first place. It is a “techno-fix”: the fantasy of changing everything without changing anything... The concept of the ‘green economy’ was to use the idea of environmentalism to revitalise capitalism... In 2009, during the world financial crisis, Edward Barbier, a co-author of the Pearce Report, wrote a newreportfor the UN Environment Programme titledGlobal Green New Deal, which repackaged the ‘green economy’ ideas as the ‘green new deal’.