Chile: confronting the polluters and imperialists at the APEC and COP25

We are a few months away from two international events that will take place in our country. On November 16 and 17 the annual meeting of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) will take place, and during December the XXV Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations, the COP25 will be held. Both meetings will be marked by the world debate on climate change, an issue led by the transnational vision of the perspective of “green capitalism”. Both events will demand a great political and social response on the streets, with a broad debate of proposals to create an alternative that is completely different from the imperialist polluters.

World alert for climate change: the COP, a transnational cover-up

The prelude to these events was the world week against climate change, during which massive demonstrations across the world manifested the signs of alarm about the consequences of maintaining energetic dependency on the burning of fossil fuels. A new phenomenon led by the youth that demands radical changes to stop global warming. An enormous challenge that opens debates and invites all to clarify their positions at a world level, where governmental organisms present themselves to public opinion as committed to the crisis, but basically paint multinational companies in green.

An approach to what we are confronting is through the antecedents given by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that depend on the United Nations, who published their last report in August of this year before the UN summit on the issue. This report, “Climate change and the earth”, contributed information about the interaction between desertification, the degradation of land, its management and food insecurity on the flux of GHG (greenhouse gases) and its consequences on the ecosystem. In parallel, Piñera is awarded for his contribution to the struggle against global warming with the Global Citizen Award. The irony of the award, the reports of the IPCC and the COP lay in the congenital drift of the pattern of capitalist accumulation.

With that idea, how can the COP reverse the effects of climate change? In first place, there are the reports of the IPCC as a base, but in the hands of the representatives of world capital, they are not enough.

  • The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is an attempt to give a response to climate change as established by 196 states plus the European Union, which originated in 1992 and came into effect in 1994.
  • Every year the COP (Conference of the Parties) holds a meeting. The first one took place in Berlin in 1995, holding 24 meetings since then, the last one took place in Poland. Chile is number 25.
  • The Paris Agreement of 2015 is a main point of the COP, that commits countries to reducing their GHG emissions to remain below the average temperature raise of 2ºC, progressively advancing toward 1,5ºC in relation to pre-industrial levels.
  • Temperatures in 2018 were around 1,6ºC above the average temperature of the end of the XIX century, from 1850 to 1900.
  • The Paris Agreement comes into effect in 2020, coinciding with the COP25 in our country.

We can say that the precedents of each year exemplify the dissociation between the reports and the political will of those who are hold the central responsibility for planetary ecocide that meet at the COP. One fact is that just the US emits 80 million tons of CO2 through its imperialist military industry, plus 70 million more tons are emitted by the US Department of Defence. A complement of this is that Trump left the Paris Agreement in July of 2017.

This whole scheme shows the green disguise power dresses in to keep things as they are. An inherent relationship is the economic power of the 1% that represent the big corporations: 7 of the 10 biggest companies in the world are oil companies, meaning a capitalist accumulation based on GHG. The totality of the problem is far from being eradicated by those who constitute the political and social obstacles to reversing the ecological crisis. In this sense Marx stated that “the only limit of capital is capital itself”: he meant that capital is not just a ‘lot of money’, but a social relationship that implies that an amount of money is transformed into more money thanks to the extraction of a surplus that corresponds to unpaid work, deriving from the ‘exploitation of the two main sources of wealth: the workforce and nature’” (1).

In response to our question, the COP cannot reverse the effects of climate change because its members caused it and today use green disguises to dodge public opinion, proposing agreements that are utopian even for them, like the Paris Agreement.

On disputes over land, China, Russia and the US towards the APEC2019.

Soon the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, or APEC, will take place. It is another space sponsored by the main world economies that see economic liberalization as the main engine of the liberation and deregulation of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • It was created in 1998 through Australia and Japan.
  • It proposes the creation of a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
  • It defined 2020 as the “Bogor goals” for free and open trade in the region.
  • It has 21 members: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; South Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States and Vietnam. Peru, Russia and Vietnam joined in 1998.
  • It represents 40% of the world´s population, 60% of global GNP and 50% of trade.
  • This is the second time it takes place in Chile. In 2004, Bush landed in our country while he was invading the Middle East. Former President Ricardo Lagos of the Socialist Party (Concertación) walked around with him without any problem.

The importance of the first APEC in Chile and what we live today are very different scenarios. On one hand, we are going through a growing worldwide economic uncertainty that keeps a large part of the so-called emerging countries in recession, while the sovereign and private debt of corporations is increasing. A situation that is enhanced by the tax war between the US and China.

The fall in capitalist profits opens the perspective of a future world recession of similar or greater dimensions than the 2008 crisis. This rushes the powers to try to revive their economies with measures against the working class and intensifying the devastation of nature. On this, our continent plays the role of exporter of raw materials in the world division of labor, part of a disputed territory that enervates the interests of foreign capital.

This situation is enhanced by the fall of assets in the production of technology in the industrialized countries, opening the need to add resources that allow cheaper and new investments for their extraction, so the debate is in line with the economic crisis and the policies of the COP of energy conversion to abandon oil dependence augurs new economic impulses through other resources, in this case lithium, for its conductive capacity of heat and electricity and for its energy storage, that can be found in our territory.

This will be one of the dynamics of the APEC2019, where the visits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and climate change denier Putin are confirmed, while Piñera urges Trump to visit the country for the Forum. This meeting between the powers will be a new point in the worldwide distribution, where the dispute over the white gold will be based on the need to move towards “clean energy”, a scheme that correlates with the progress of the TPP11 as a trade deregulation measure. Although there are certain agreements on the economic openness, the main point is that the APEC will take place in a dynamic of an economic crisis and inter-imperialist dispute, where the “hosts” are the pantry of interests that pressure them to intensify extractivism.

This implies the proliferation of the socio-environmental impact of open air mining. Therefore, the policies of the COP, the imperialist gears of the APEC and the extractive foundations of our country are related and synthesized in a main point: the struggle against the climate crisis is inherently anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, involving a transitional program that, far from changing polluting materials for others of similar consequences, is based on the needs of the majorities and not of capital.

Neither APEC nor COP. For an anti-capitalist and eco-socialist solution

The world week against climate change marked two key milestones: massive international protests. This is essential to confront those responsible for climate change that will be in two summits in our country. Therefore, the continuity of these actions will be essential to give a social response. We propose that bet be strengthened with a dispute of ideas, because both the APEC and the COP are against the environmental crisis, in terms of taking social fractures to events close to the interests of the big capitalists, of green capitalism promoted by the corporations. At the same time, to confront the ideological currents represented by the NGOs that focus their actions on pressuring the government with the idea of convincing those who have caused the climate catastrophe, a vision that does not bother those who promote the COP.

That is why the left must consistently add the socio-environmental agenda to its political activity, against the dogmas of productivism, that do not question destructive forces or condition everything to “workers’ control” as a recipe no matter how polluting the industry plan is or the environmental and social damage it causes. This vision has its reformist version in those who defend countries like China in its role of progressive imperialism, a thesis we must argue against.

That is why Movimiento Anticapitalista proposes to advance in discussing everything in our path to change the system, building a militant force that transcends individual actions and forges a collective force that raises an integral project: transitional and revolutionary against the capitalist debacle and the ecological crisis, defending measures to reorganize everything, decided by the working majorities. A socialist project with environmental, feminist, anti-bureaucratic and internationalist perspectives. On this basis we invite you to dialogue and join wills with us, to get organized to confront the summits of the polluters on the streets. Neither the APEC nor the COP, let’s work towards an anti-capitalist and eco-socialist solution.

Joaquín Araneda, Movimiento Anticapitalista.

1. Rosa, Mariano (2018) Debates: Nuestro ecosocialismo. Liga Internacional Socialista: https://lis-isl.org/2018/12/27/debates-nuestro-ecosocialismo/