Consider why Emmanuel Macron did not show up at Davos this year. The French president took precisely the kind of action deemed necessary to tackle the climate emergency – whacking up the cost of driving fossil-fuelled vehicles – only to find the country erupt into protest. The message to Macron from those on low incomes was clear: don’t talk to us about the end of the world until you have told us how to make ends meet at the end of the month. Speedy action to tackle the climate emergency requires political action. But political action will only be possible if governments can carry their voters with them. And that is not going to be possible if the measures enacted appear to be all pain and no gain. It is much easier to worry about the future of the planet if you are comfortably off and don’t have to rely on a food bank. Any sensible person observing the World Economic Forum annual meeting from the outside would come up with the following analysis: working people are going to be less terrified about new technology if they are represented by a trade union. Growth would be higher, and less dependent on debt, if workers were able to bargain collectively. Public support for more rapid action to fight global heating would be stronger under a more progressive tax system. Entrepreneurs would develop new green technologies more quickly if governments set more onerous targets for reductions in carbon emissions. All these notions are anathema to those running multinational corporations. They hate the idea of trade unions, they are ideological in their opposition to stronger states, and they recoil from the idea that they should pay more tax. But if poor people are expected to make all the sacrifices, expect some resistance. And expect the battle ahead to be long and hard.
Guardian 26th Jan 2020 read more »