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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les plus riches bien au chaud

by Patrick Apel-Muller

The Richest Keep Cool…

Translated Saturday 18 July 2009, by Karen Grimwade

Nothing must upset world order. The leaders of the most powerful nations, recently assembled in Italy, would prefer the recession to run its course, no matter what problems it may leave in its wake, rather than challenge the capitalist system. Furthermore, they envisage purely limited measures for combating the pollution that generate global warming. There is no question of drastically cutting into profits or challenging the privatisation of activities that are nonetheless so vital for the future of humanity.

Barak Obama has managed to bring a touch of green to American politics here and there, but nothing that matches the task at hand. His objectives for reducing greenhouse gases are far below what GEIC [1] experts judge to be an acceptable level for the planet. Western leaders currently see “the green economy” as a source of dividends and stock options rather than a radical reorientation towards sustainable development.

In the eyes of leaders such as Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Gordon Brown or Angela Merkel, public utilities remain an expense to be curtailed. Instead of constructing public utilities, at European level, that safeguard water and energy resources, they race to privatise electricity, gas, public transport and thus to subject them to the only law known by shareholders – that of maximum profit. Even health has not escaped this obsession with deregulation, as the Bachelot law on health reform shows. At a time when human survival is at stake, public interest should take precedent and state management of common property and resources should prevail. How can one claim to be fighting for the environment effectively and at the same time place strategic industries in the hands of big players listed on the CAC 40 (French stock market index), who are obsessed with the rate of return and pension funds? The friends of Daniel Cohn-Bendit will not be able to avoid the question for very long.

In order to stop pollution from threatening the future of the planet, it is vital that we have a new world order. In order to do this the West, the main polluter on the planet, must fulfil its commitments to reducing emissions for the benefit of the South, which is under threat from drought and rising waters. The production of resources itself must be changed, not in order to reduce it but to respect the environment and to benefit everyone. If anything is to be reduced let it be arms, individual transportion and over-sized housing! Trade itself needs to be considered from a different angle to that of globalisation based on unrestricted competition, wage reduction and the wasting of natural resources. It is high time we replace the very mechanisms that landed us in a recession in the first place with principles based on cooperation and personal fulfilment.

It is now a question of civilisation, of which the left must become the tireless champion. The concepts of access for all to fundamental rights – to energy, water, transport, education and housing, etc. – and the collective management of common property and resources in order to guarantee the future of humanity, are concepts that are capable of uniting huge majorities.

[1Global Environment Information center. See their site

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