A Program for Sustainable Growth

A long-term program of investment in renewable energy sources must be a priority, leading to the progressive replacement of oil, gas, coal-fired and nuclear power stations. Workers in these industries will need to be retrained and re-skilled for the different technologies involved in wind, wave and solar power generation.

At the same time, research and development in new techniques for energy generation will need to be massively stepped up, as will work to improve the capability and efficiency of presently available renewable energy sources. The extra experts needed to do this work can be assigned from the arms industry, a sector which will be rapidly run down. Significant resources will still need to be deployed to clearing up the mess already existing, in particular, workers in the nuclear industry will have their hands full in organising de-commissioning of nuclear plant and devising ways to safely store or neutralise toxic waste.

Environmentally friendly consumption habits can be promoted by giving subsidies to key areas, such as public transport and the use of re-cycleable materials. Eco-taxes, which hit the poorest hardest, in general should not be used, unless directed at certain items of energy intensive luxury consumption. Enterprises should be subject to a strict regime of compliance with environmental standards.

To implement this program needs an integrated environmental plan that can only be effective if the energy industries are nationalised with democratic workers’ control and management. The research and development investment required for ecological transformation can also only be effective if it is part of an integrated plan, linked to other aspects such as energy production and consumer subsidies.

Since the issues of environmental sustainability involve virtually all aspects of production of goods and services, an integrated energy plan must be part of an overall plan, which can only be based on taking over the commanding heights of the economy, meaning in practice nationalising the top 150 monopolies. If this is done the anarchy and waste built into the capitalist system can be eliminated and a rational socialist alternative can begin the task of saving the planet from its present path towards devastation.

Pete Dickenson