“Wild industrialization that accumulates pollution, urbanization out of scale that dislocates communities, no longer meet the needs and aspirations of present time. The time has come to define a new growth. “[…]
“I insist, in fact, for several years, and in various circumstances, the need for a different kind of growth, more humane and economically. This new growth is not only a concept, something to think about or dream, it can actually draw. In environmental matters, it means first “zero growth” of pollution. “[…]
“In traditional economic indicators that measure only the expansion of commodity production, it will be necessary to add additional criteria that reflect also the changes of life and are a currently registered in any of our statistical elements . In tomorrow’s world, the increase in public parks, the largest clean air and water, the decline in accidents or road signs must be measurable and measured progress. ‘
This quote is not from the book of the Left Front in environmental planning. She dated 29 October 1975 and was delivered by the President of the French Republic, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. This shows how the recovery of ecology by the ruling classes is not a new thing.
Many others have tried with varying success: Georges Pompidou, Margaret Thatcher (who became in the late 1980s a high priestess of the hole in the ozone layer and climate change), Jacques Chirac Earth Summit in Johannesburg (“Our house is burning and we look elsewhere”) and of course the deposed president Nicolas Sarkozy with his Grenelle de l’environnement. This movement recovered time precisely in 1970 and began in the United States.
On 22 April this year, the first Earth Day brings together more than 20 million people around various initiatives: events, conferences, seminars and parties.
During the preparation of this event, some multinationals include it plays something important. So they denied the existence of environmental problems in the 1950s and 1960s, they decided to change strategy and to declare actors of protection of the environment. This is the case of Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Ford, who set up their own events for this Earth Day.
This is certainly a first coarse maneuver. But the recovery continues ecology of a much more insidious and dangerous.
The major economic powers understand that environmental issues may hinder their current project: establish a system of free trade widest possible within the non-Communist world, with free movement of goods, services and capital. This is what is later called globalization.
Why free trade is so important?
Firstly because it opens up new markets and enables further expansion of capitalism while limiting the risks of overproduction. Second, because it allows to source raw materials and labor at low prices in the South in a quite logical neo. Third, because it creates competition, through blackmail and offshoring to capital flight, social systems, standards, tax systems of the North with the South. Thanks to a powerful lobbying Western multinationals and politicians who support the free exchange gain or sanctuary.
Since the first Earth Summit, held in Rio in 1972, the Mass is: the final declaration states that “all countries […] agree not to invoke their desire to protect the environment as an excuse to apply discriminatory policy or reduce market access. ‘
In the early 1980s, after the turn ultraliberal “Reagan, Thatcher, Kohl, Delors’ environment disappears political agendas. It is time to dismantle popular sovereignty, deregulation, unfettered free trade. He returned in 1987 with the famous Brundtland Report, which enshrines the concept of “sustainable development”.
From the outset, this sustainable development is really an adaptation of environmental policies at the turn ultraliberal: it states the need for economic growth and growth in international trade (ie free trade), we call on the public-private cooperation, placing people at the center of environmental liability dédouanant companies.
Then, in the early 2000s, with the climate crisis, but especially with the rising price of fossil fuels, we are entering a new era of capitalism “green.” The planet is sufficiently degraded to some technologies “clean” become profitable, and large multinationals pounce on this niche market, generously subsidized by the community. We even invented a market for pollution rights, which opens a new niche speculative, with “carbon fund” of derivatives and structured products … what breed some time in the subprime crisis in September 2008. Of course, all this leads to disputes of “green capitalism”, but of very different kinds.
Some environmentalists have not really understood what globalization. Its worst consequence is not moving the pollution and the exploitation of workers in developing countries, which is already unbearable in itself, but rather to prevent the establishment of any social or environmental regulation binding on employers including the North. The number one enemy, so it is free trade, which now wants to put forward an ecology compatible with the market, that of green capitalism.
A radical ecology
History provides us with a framework for this radical ecology, all the more relevant that it was developed by representatives of the South.
In October 1974, intellectuals gathered under the auspices of the UN in the city Mexican Cocoyoc to discuss “resource utilization, environment and development strategies.” Several non-aligned countries, but implementing socialist policies (Sri Lanka, Mexico, Tanzania …) are represented. Following their discussions, the experts issue a statement firmly denounces international economic order based on the exploitation of the South and is primarily responsible for the degradation of the environment.
They offer a way forward for countries who want to emancipate, based on four main ideas:
First, the national sovereignty. States must recover full control of their natural resources.They must unite, following the example of oil-producing countries (OPEC), to regulate the production and negotiate decent selling price. Nation must be autonomous, a word that recurs constantly in the declaration.
Second, popular sovereignty, national sovereignty is exercised in a democratic society in the interests of the people and not the ruling class. Any possible confusion with a decline on national boundaries to protect capitalist interests.
Third, the break with the world economic order, ie (even if those words do not appear in the declaration for diplomatic reasons) the output of capitalism and free trade.
Fourth, internationalism, ie cooperation between states regained their national and popular sovereignty, including managing all natural resources and address environmental problems.
This statement Cocoyoc, which is the first official text that can be described as ecosocialist is in my eyes the most important text in the history of political ecology.Apply today the principles of the Declaration of Cocoyoc mean out of the World Trade Organization, to disobey the European Union, establish an ecological and social protectionism, restore monetary sovereignty, control capital movements …
Finally, intellectuals Cocoyoc had invented in 1974 a concept that many find his name later de-globalization.
This text is adapted from a presentation by Mr. Bernier Summer of the Left Front, August 25, 2012. The full text is available at http://abernier.vefblog.net/28.html # Intervention_aux_Estivales_du_Front_de_gauche_2012
Aurélien Bernier worked ten years for the Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME). Former member of Attac, he is a member of the political movement of popular education (M’PEP). He frequently collaborates with Le Monde Diplomatique.
He is the author editions of Arabian Nights Climate, hostage finance (2008), Do not be fools environmentalists (2010), disobey EU standards! (2011) and How globalization has killed Ecology (2012)