Climate Justice — [Sir Charles Walker in the Chair.]

Part of Innovation in Hospital Design – in Westminster Hall at 3:04 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Zarah Sultana Zarah Sultana Labour, Coventry South 3:04 pm, 4th February 2020

I apologise to the hon. Member—because of the time limit, I must progress.

There was a time when many denied the science, but today there is a different kind of denialism. They do not deny the science—they deny the politics. They pretend that business as usual can combat the climate emergency, and that banning plastic straws, using bags for life or tweaking the system is enough. I am sorry—it is not, because the problems are not individual. They are collective. It is the same politicians who tell us to ban plastic straws who have left MPs’ pensions invested in deadly fossil fuels, so hon. Members will understand why we do not have high hopes for COP26 later this year and why we expect more platitudes and more hypocrisy. I ask hon. Members to take a lead from the students who have forced their universities to divest, and to divest now.

To prevent the climate emergency from becoming a climate catastrophe, we have to face up to what is driving the crisis. The answer is clear. It is a capitalist crisis, driven by capitalism’s need for expansion and exploitation. It is not the fault of a few bad apples; the entire system is rotten. It is a system that rose with the coal mines and steam mills that powered Britain to global dominance, and trashed the world’s climate to win wealth for colonial powers. Today, the global south still pays the price. If the climate crisis is a capitalist crisis, it is a neocolonial crisis too. Those least to blame—the global south and the global working class—will be hardest hit. While the world burns, the rich will build higher walls to protect themselves. They will let climate refugees drown and the dispossessed starve.

That is one future, but there is another. If we unite people across borders, and recognise that in this fight our enemy travels by private jet and not migrant dinghy, we can have a global green new deal, and it will look like this: dismantling the fossil fuel industry; taking resources away from a handful of private profiteers, and using them to plan a better future; insulating our homes and designing new green industries; building free public transport and creating millions of good, unionised jobs. That is how we unite black and white, north and south, migrants and those born here, people in Britain and people overseas. We all have an interest in survival. That is how we can build a world that is truly our own, with opportunities for all.

Plenty of people will call me naive, but the real naivety is to pretend we have another choice. My generation grew up watching global leaders bail out banks but ignore the warnings of a planet on fire. To stop that, we must finally make good on the promise of an old socialist hymn. With a global green new deal, we will

“bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old”.