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Climate Crisis, Capitalism and the Socialist Alternative

Saturday 19 August 2023

10.00 – 16.00

AIDC Solidarity Centre
129 Rochester Rd, Observatory Cape Town



Globally we are facing a climate emergency where we haven less than a decade to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, this is necessary in order to avert runaway climate catastrophe.

The capital and neoliberal governments, especially those in the global North argue that the solution is promoting the green economy: provide incentives for capital investment in climate protection. This gives rise to more markets (establishing carbon markets, intensive extraction of green minerals, and commodifying nature. That is the very processes which have created the climate crisis. Yet, even this green capitalist strategy is not working. Emissions continue to rise and to date investment is tiny in relation to the economic transformation needed in sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, construction etc. The State of Climate Action 2021 report finds that $5 trillion will be needed annually by 2030 to finance the systemwide transformations needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C.

The insertion of the global South into the world economy on subordinate and unequal terms where capital is siphoned out in the form of profits and dividends repatriation, debt repayments, illicit financial flows and in the form of unequal terms of trade, denies these countries the means to mitigate and adapt to the climate catastrophe.

The UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) and the Conference of the Parties (COP) have been captured by the very corporate and capitalist interests which have given rise to the climate crisis and hence there is no virtually no chance of achieving a global agreement to radically reduce greenhouse gasses emissions and provide the resources for countries to undertake the massive transformation their economies and societies need to protect the climate and their people.

In this context it is urgent to develop what an eco-socialist alternative could look like. The trade union movement initially argued that climate justice cannot be separated from socio-economic justice. This is an important principle. In relation to energy in particular, an eco-socialist alternative should seek to simultaneously overcome energy poverty; enable the increased democratization of the energy system; ensure adequate levels of reliable energy necessary to meet consumption needs and to drive a re-industrialization programme; fundamentally, it needs to develop pathways for decarbonizing our energy system. And we need to do all this with policies in harmony with tackling the poverty, unemployment and inequality everyone now recognises.

As it becomes increasingly clear that the system of private accumulation and profit maximization stands in the way of protecting the climate, it is necessary to focus on strategy. We, therefore, have to ask what is the level of consciousness, resistance and organisation to lead a struggle for social, economic and climate justice? What must we do to build an eco-socialist movement embedded in the working class as part of a global movement to protect our people and the climate.

Dialogues for an Anti-capitalist Alternative, a political initiative to catalyse a movement for socialism will hold a seminar to discuss the climate crisis, capitalism and the socialist alternative.


“The Apocalypse is now … the climate catastrophe is no longer “impending” but playing out in real time.” Jayati Ghosh

How are we experiencing the climate crisis?

  • Small group discussion
  • Plenary Input: The accelerating climate crisis – Professor Guy Midgley
  • Plenary discussion with Q & A



  • Group Discussion: How do we explain the failure to radically cut emissions and address the climate crisis in the face of science’s warning?
  • Input: Beyond the fossil fuel industry: Capitalism and the climate crisis – Rasigan Maharaj
  • Input: How the COP and the UN Framework Convention reflect the current dominance of capitalism – Luiz Marques
  • Plenary discussion



  • Group discussion: In the face of humanity’s greatest threat what is the state of resistance to the climate crisis and around what claim/s or mobilising issues do we we build a movement equal to the tasks we face?
  • Input: Why ecofeminist alternatives are eco-socialist – Jacky Cock / Samantha Hargreaves
  • Input: Why we need climate jobs and a public pathway approach is necessary for decarbonizing strategies – Dominic Brown
  • Input: Strategies towards building a just transition from below – Brian Ashley