Can We Solve the Climate Crisis Without Ending Capitalism?

My review of @BillGates 'How to Avoid a Climate Crisis' for @novaramedia

Thread covering key points below. Read on!…
1) Gates talks about warming of 4-8 degrees this century in the absence of meaningful action. That is way beyond most liberal thought leaders or politicians. A new level of candour on the topic for someone so wealthy.…
2) Elsewhere he writes that over next "decade or two" economic damage caused by climate change will “likely be as bad as having a Covid-sized pandemic every ten years”. A powerful way to talk about catastrophe ahead & one we rarely hear. It surprised me.…
3) Gates has written an important book which reflects the recognition by a large part of the ruling class (see Carney speech in 2016, Larry Fink earlier this year) that climate change will undermine status quo more than anyone realises.…
4) What's really useful is a simple question that guides entire book. We presently discharge 51 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into atmosphere. How can that fall to zero?

Again, an important Q few politicians or thought leaders pose.…
5) A second useful thing is approach which follows. Because Gates regards ‘net zero’ as an engineering issue he proceeds to break problem down into smaller parts – much like the process of decomposition or ‘factoring’ complex problems in computer science.…
6) Thus he identifies main sources of emissions & labels them: ‘how we plug in’ (electricity), ‘how we make things’ (consumer durables & built environment), ‘how we grow things’ (food), ‘how get around’ (travel) & ‘how we keep cool & stay warm’. Useful!…
7) Why is this useful? Because 'how we make things' is 31% of total & is neglected compared to things like air travel (3%!) Far from accidental this is consequence of decades of PR. BP were behind the creation of the first carbon footprint tool in 2004.…
8) This is another really welcome departure in the book. @BillGates is crystal clear that ethical consumption and consumer choice, by itself, will achieve next to nothing in addressing the climate crisis. Yes!…
9) That was a surprise. Even bigger, though, was his claim that involvement in the political process is “the most important single step” individuals can take.

Was not expecting that!

4-8 degrees warming is possible, ethical consumption is inadequate, citizens should mobilise.
10) There's lots to disagree with too. More than sometimes tending to inefficiency, capitalism can be supremely irrational. This is why, for critics, it can never underpin a rational and sustainable distribution of limited resources. See China's 'Ghost cities' (lots of concrete!)
11) Of course Gates can't say that, & its a huge limit to much of his argument (tho not his opening analysis).

He also fetishes technological innovation over low-tech, effective stuff we could do right now: insulate houses, passivhaus, re-wild, global program of tree planting.
12) There is also no mention of cycling or micro-mobility, and public transit systems using renewable energy are barely discussed. Yet surely we also want fewer cars given longer commutes cause stress and waste time that could be put to better use?…
13) Cars are stationary and unused 95% of the time, while Angelinos spend five days in traffic jams a year. Very sub-optimal! Whatever the source of energy, any successful transport system will resemble Amsterdam rather than Los Angeles.…
14) Like @MazzucatoM Gates points to past, but rather than Apollo its the Human Genome Project. He wants state industrial policy that 'crowds in' certain areas, not one that gets out of the way! Again, this is a real break with pre-2008 common sense.…
15) Describing Microsoft, Gates appears more in favour of the state than the ‘Third Way’ politicians of yesteryear. “The personal computer business, including Microsoft”, he writes, “would never have been the success it was if the US government hadn’t put money into research”.
16) "Congress needs to provide funding for R&D [research and development], government procurement, and developing infrastructure” Gates opines, “and it needs to create, modify or extend financial incentives for green policies and products”.

Kind of sounds like a GND...
17) But the climate crisis isn’t just greenhouse gas emissions but also the sixth great extinction, declining freshwater supplies and resource scarcity. The very possibility of perpetual economic growth is premised on the assumption of ‘cheap’ nature, food and energy...
18) as much as cheap work & care. When you are willing to sacrifice so much, potentially even the biosphere on which your species depends, it’s time to say it isn’t an economic model you’re defending, it’s a form of religion.

Gates may be heterodox, but he's still no heretic.
19) Yet despite a mistaken view of how rapacious capitalism is, & how planetary sustainability is impossible alongside it, Gates contributes a vital insight: if the left is serious about climate change it can’t just talk about alternative futures, it has to engineer them too.
20) But what was surreal is that *Bill Gates* is to left of much of centre left when it comes to climate change oriented industrial policy.

The coherence of thinking, the analysis and many of the solutions were far more ‘progressive’ than many Labour or Democrat politicians!
21) I personally find it quite funny that one of the world’s wealthiest people is more likely to attribute the success of the private computer industry in the US to the state than Peter Mandelson or various celebrity ‘entrepreneurs’ like Lord Sugar.

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More from @AaronBastani

23 Mar
Labour’s @johnmcdonnellMP arguing for PR & a more democratic electoral system.

More than one person has told me the Labour leadership is looking to return to the electoral college for choosing a leader. Under Starmer the party walking away from democracy, not toward it.
Can a party whose leadership is opposed to internal democracy meaningful reform the state’s democracy? Very hard to see.

All of this was lost on anti-Corbyn liberals in recent years. They’ll find out hard way!
Response to this is often ‘but the left can shape this!’

Questionable. Many around Starmer want thousands of members to go. A party of 1-200,000 people isn’t seen as a problem if money comes from elsewhere. Meanwhile has support of GMB & Unison.

Read 4 tweets
8 Mar
WOW. Speaking to @theJeremyVine today @Keir_Starmer said quite clearly he personally decided to suspend Jeremy Corbyn. On the day he said he had nothing to do with it, later his team briefed #Newsnight he was merely 'consulted'.

This man has a profound inability to be honest!
. @Keir_Starmer told the BBC it was not his decision to suspend Corbyn on October 30…
Later it was briefed to #newsnight that he was 'consulted' on the decision to suspend Corbyn.

Read 6 tweets
21 Feb
On the cannabis stuff: Starmer’s pitch was always identikit robo-politics led by focus groups. This was overt.

People who endorsed him should recognise that - and that he will not replicate the manner in which the previous leadership tried to shape the debate. On anything.
Quite bizarre seeing people knock him who went after the last leadership like no tomorrow. This is the Labour Party as it’s been for my entire life, except 2015-19. Whoever succeeds him will be the same.
It was boring & worthy before 2015, with no answers to big problems of the 21st century. And we’re back there again now. Anyone who offered something different would be attacked by very people criticising Starmer now.

What he’s saying is his politics. Surely you knew that?
Read 4 tweets
18 Feb
Why is the licence-fee payer paying for the World Service broadcasting in 42 languages when 58% of the country doesn't have a regional newspaper?

Strengthening the BBC means more resources for public interest journalism, not extending 'soft power'.…
This is NOT an argument against the BBC, simply that the FCO should fund the World Service, not baristas or care workers who just want to watch the telly. Why should they subsidise our elite’s infatuation with global influence?…
Is there any other country where local news gathering is dying but it is seen as vital that, at the same time, news is provided in Pashto, Uzbek and Icelandic?

Says a lot about how Britain sees itself, and how this feeds neglect of major, long-term…
Read 4 tweets
12 Feb
Looking at how Tory members were able to hold local MPs to account, and in certain instances effectively de-select them over Brexit, and comparing it to goings-on with Labour in Bristol last night, it becomes pretty obvious which party has a greater belief in democracy.
The centre & centre-left have an in-built assumption that they are the good guys, and frequently this manifests itself in a gleeful desire to override democracy because they are right (in a number of instances this powered the 2nd referendum stuff).

It's so unlikeable!
Same elements of centre complain about Tory cronyism & disregard for democracy but to be frank I can't see much difference. It's just highlighted more frequently with Tories because they are better at getting power.

They are the same, just the centre think they are virtuous.
Read 4 tweets
10 Feb
‘Labour Has One Route to Power – And It Can’t Take ‘Generation Left’ for Granted’

Me for ⁦@novaramedia⁩ on 2 poor polls for Labour and how the only path to government is an alliance built on PR & a Green New Deal.

Blue Labour isn’t cutting it.…
Surprisingly little has changed for Labour under Starmer. In Scotland & Wales it’s standing still while it’s making no inroads with 2019 Tory voters. Importantly, voter preference by age remains hugely polarised.

It’s absorbed a lot of LDs, but that’s it.…
Voter preference by age remains as polarised as 2019. Yougov found Greens and Tories are level among 18-24 year olds.…
Read 7 tweets

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