Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Guardian author Owen Jones, Extinction Rebellion aren’t being radical enough; demanding large scale nationalisation is the only way to stop an ongoing rise in oil production.
How to stop climate change? Nationalise the oil companies
Fri 26 Apr 2019 03.35 AEST
If only the Daily Express was right. That is not a sentence I ever expected to type. “Extinction Rebellion protests have WORKED as MPs succumb to calls for change”, bellowed the rightwing rag. Alas, the government has not capitulated to demands to declare a climate emergency, let alone to decarbonise the British economy by 2025. But Extinction Rebellion has retaught a lesson every generation must learn: that civil disobedience works. Amid the spluttering of obnoxious news presenters, it has forced the existential threat of climate change on to the airwaves and into newsprint.
But as this phase of protest winds down, the demands must radicalise. With capitalism itself rightly being challenged, the focus must shift to the fossil fuel companies and the banks. As long as they remain under private ownership on a global scale, humanity’s future will be threatened.
Take ExxonMobil, which plans to pump an astonishing 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than it did in 2017.
So long as these sectors remain in private hands, they will continue to place short-term profit for elite investors ahead of the future of the planet and continued existence of humanity. They must be brought under public ownership, with a legal mandate to “green” the economy. One suggestion by the Next System Project is that the US government could create a community ownership of power administration, modelled on Roosevelt-era New Deal agencies. It would grant legal authority and funding mechanisms to buy back the energy grid and take over energy utilities.
But there are more radical solutions. Since the crash, quantitative easing (QE) has been used extensively, with central banks creating money to buy bonds from financial institutions. Why not use QE to buy a controlling stake in the fossil fuel companies? It has been estimated that the US has spent nearly $6tn on its post-9/11 wars. If it has the resources to engage in catastrophic wars, could it not afford to pay a small fraction of that sum to help save the planet from destruction? The same goes for the banks – except rather than nationalising the risks and privatising the profit, as the state did in 2008, they should this time be brought under democratic, accountable public control.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/climate-change-oil-companies-extinction-rebellion
Owen Jones is right that nationalisation would cause oil production to plummet, though not for the reason he thinks.
Part of the reason the Venezuelan economy cratered is they nationalised their oil industry. They replaced competent private sector managers with incompetent political cronies.