Market Failure, Capitalism and Global Warming

Market Failure

According to the TIMES (16 September 2021), Kwasi Kwartang, the business secretary, has blamed the capitalist free market for global warming. He believes that governments around the world have a duty to "legislate and intervene" in order to protect the environment.

However governments represent the interest of their respective capitalist class. The capitalist class of each nation is in competition with capitalists from other countries. This is reflected in the competition between nation states over trade routes, markets, strategic spheres of influence and gaining a competitive edge on the world market.

And the imperative imposed by capitalism is economic growth, more and more profit and capital accumulation. And Chinese capitalism is doing that very well at the expense of the environment. In the pursuit of economic growth, China emits more greenhouse gas than the entire developed world combined, a new report has claimed.

The research by Rhodium Group says China emitted 27% of the world's greenhouse gases in 2019. The US was the second-largest emitter at 11% while India was third with 6.6% of emissions, the think tank said (BBC NEWS September 18th 2921).

Capitalism and the Profit Motive

Under capitalism profit comes before the environment. Countries do not want their own capitalist class to suffer by supporting and implementing environmental reforms which makes their businesses lose out. Why environmentally reform when other countries do not. Successful competition against rivals and economic growth are more important than floods in Bangladesh or drought in Africa.

Will Brazil stop cutting down the rain forests and China close the coal mines they have just spent millions on opening? Will Kwartang's Tory government halt the opening of the Cumbrian coal mine in the North West of England where 40 conservative MPs have signed a letter in support of the mine? And then there is the Cambo oil field west of Shetland? Will Johnson close that oilfield before he chairs the COP26 in Glasgow?

The use of fossil fuel is a contributory factor in global warming. Cost, selling commodities and profit is all that counts.

Global warming, is, as Kwarteng states, all about "market failure"? Market failure is the admission that the market is not benign, harmonious and self-adjusting as Adam Smith, the author of THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, believed. The market fundamentalists have been worshipping a false God.

Here is Kwasi Kwartang: "If market solutions naturally greened the world, we wouldn't be where we are. Clearly, there's been a market failure." What he cannot say, will not say, is that capitalism caused global warming. What prevents a solution to global warming is the private ownership of the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of all of society. Get rid of the cause of global warming and a practical far-reaching solution can be found. Therefore the profit system has to go. Kwartang's admission that "there's been a market failure" is not good enough. Nor is his belief that the environmental mess can be resolved through government legislation and reforms. The United Nations and its environmental resolutions over the last two decades do not inspire much confidence.

The Failure of the United Nations

The UN's Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on government leaders to come with concrete and realistic plans to bring their national net carbon emissions down to zero by 2050. However there has been 30 years of such international meetings. It is a vain hope for 197 countries to agree on any meaningful climate action at all, especially when it involves so much national interest, money and power.

Capitalism is the problem of global warming and the only global solution to environmental degradation. Gluing oneself to the M25, disrupting workers trying to get to their place of exploitation and getting arrested as Extinction Rebellion recently did is empty gesture politics. It will change nothing.

The only way to deal with global warming is for the world's working class to politically and democratically replace capitalism with socialism: the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.

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Object and Declaration of Principles


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles


1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.