The Sunday Debate: To Stop Climate Collapse, We Must End Capitalism

Capitalism is driving us to disaster. Our planet is heading for a terrifying environmental cataclysm – and our economic system is responsible. The defining characteristic of capitalism is perpetual economic growth. And while it has brought us wonderful benefits, including improved health, wealth and opportunities to travel and experience the world, ever-increasing production and consumption – inherent in capitalism – are an existential threat to life on our planet. The more we produce and consume, the more energy we need – and renewables can’t keep pace. Unless we abandon capitalism now, we will inevitably continue to drive up the demand for fossil fuels. According to some scientific predictions, human civilisation could completely collapse by 2050 if we don’t take drastic action to stop climate change now. We must end capitalism before it’s too late.

That’s the view of the anti-capitalist eco-warriors. But while it’s undeniable that capitalism has contributed to our current climate crisis, it has also proven to be history’s most effective way of solving our problems. According to capitalism’s defenders, there is almost no challenge capitalism hasn’t met. It has helped defeat disease and has lifted billions out of poverty – and there’s no reason why the dynamism of the marketplace can’t be harnessed to bring our carbon emissions down to zero. For example, until recently solar panels were impossibly expensive; now they are cheap and helping us transition away from fossil fuels. Our system of competitive, open markets gives strong incentives for the world’s brightest minds to find creative solutions to climate change. So don’t listen to the doomsayers who want to rip up our economic system. Capitalism is not the problem; it’s the solution.

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