Why can’t we decarbonize the US economy?

Monday, August 1, 2022 - 1:00pm
Richard Smith

"We face a paradox: On the one hand, decarbonization has never been technically easier and indeed important initiatives are already in the works: solar and wind power are booming, fast replacing coal in the US, and sales of electric cars are, finally, beginning to take off. What’s more, there’s broad popular consensus around the world that we face a climate emergency and need to quickly transition out of fossil fuels. Yet in other respects, it’s never been tougher as opposition to phasing out fossil fuels has sharpened and intensified, as we’ve just seen with the collapse of Biden’s climate change agenda. In Europe too, coal is back as the war in Ukraine has cut oil and gas imports from Russia that Europe has long depended upon while renewables lag. How are we to understand these contradictory tendencies and what, if anything, can we ecosocialists do to help prevent collapse of the climate and civilization? Richard will analyse the technical and systemic political barriers to decarbonization in western, especially U.S. capitalism, and suggest what he thinks the environmental movement should try to do in response.”

Richard Smith is author of Green Capitalism: the God That Failed (2016) and China’s Engine of Environmental Collapse (2020).

Other related readings:

An Ecosocialist Path to Limiting Global Temperature Rise to 1.5°C

DSA's Green New Deal Principles

Out of Time: The case for nationalizing the fossil fuel industry

Nationalize the U.S. Fossil Fuel Industry to Save the Planet

Sun and wind come in cheaper than coal, save $82B in fossil fuel costs

No need for 'miracle technologies' to decarbonize energy: Jacobsen

Here is a pretty comprehensive list of articles and videos related to nationalizing the fossil fuel industry from Ted Franklin’s terrific website Let’s Own Chevron.” See also the page listing numerous articles on “just transitions.”