To Limit Climate Change, We Need a Political Revolution Against the Power of Exxon, Chevron, and Shell!

We’ve known about climate change for over 20 years. And for over 20 years, world leaders have come together to “talk” about how to deal with the insurmountable evidence that carbon emissions threaten massive climate disruption. They will come together to talk again in Paris at the end of the year, to once again discuss a global treaty aimed at keeping global temperature rise to no more than another degree Celsius – 2 degrees Celsius, total.

Despite what the media would have you believe, a solid majority – more than 60% of Americans – want something done to protect future generations from climate change (Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 2015). From Keystone XL to Shell No!, a growing movement of climate justice activists is literally putting bodies on the line to stop the construction of fossil fuel projects. Hundreds of thousands marched in last year’s People’s Climate March, and thousands of students have joined the fossil fuel divestment campaigns on college campuses.

A Tiny Minority Deciding
Our Fate

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Shell Oil President Marvin Odum; BP America Chairman H. Lamar McKay; and Conoco Phillips CEO James Mulva testifying before the US Senate in 2011

All the resources and technology needed to transition to a renewable energy economy exist. What stands in the way are giant corporations that have billions in profit at stake, as well as their political representatives. A recent study showed that just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of all emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – and, more importantly, that who decides the fate of these giant polluting industries, “the decision makers, the CEOs…they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two,” (The Guardian, 11/9/2013).

This tiny minority uses its power to make massive profits at the expense of the safety of working people, the health of communities, and the future of the planet. They’ve spent billions to purchase pliable career politicians. The Republicans are by far the biggest donor recipients. And while it’s completely understandable that people feel the need to support the Democratic Party against the climate-change-denial politics of the Republicans, we cannot forget that the leadership of Democratic Party also receives massive contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

Recall how, just three months ago, the Democratic Party leadership, led by Obama, forced through fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, disappointing labor unions as well as environmentalists and social justice activists. Recall how Obama just gave permission to Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic – again.

A Party for the 99%

We can’t block trains and pipelines indefinitely, and we can’t allow ourselves to be blocked politically anymore. Like Bernie Sanders says, we need a political revolution, mobilizing millions of people to challenge Big Oil and the establishment politicians that stand in the way.

Disgust for both parties has reached record levels. Nearly 60% of Americans want to see a third party. Bernie Sanders’ challenge to the billionaire class and his bold pro-worker and pro-environment program to create 13 million jobs “to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure” has attracted crowds of thousands, including 28,000 in Portland. Though he is running for the Democratic Party nomination, at his rallies and events Socialist Alternative’s call for a new party of the 99% has received big applause.

If Sanders loses the primaries, he should not endorse a corporate Democrat with links to fossil fuel corporations like Hillary Clinton. He should continue running as an independent as a step toward organizing all those who support him into a new independent political movement. In the unlikely case that he wins the Democratic Party primaries, which are dominated by corporate cash already, the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party – tied by a million strings to Big Oil and Wall Street – could not be relied on to support him. We need an independent, organized force to win: a party of the 99%.

Unbought and independent, this mass workers’ party could offer a vision of what’s possible if the working class made the decisions. We could harness the resources and technology to meet our energy needs with renewable sources, employing millions in good-paying union jobs. Our party representatives and candidates could use their positions to win working people to an alternative, helping to organize and strengthen mass movements – the real motor force for change.


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