People involved in the current wave of climate activism, from Extinction Rebellion (XR) to
the many admirers of Greta Thunberg, to the Green Party, must recognise that the struggle
for climate justice is an innately left wing political project, not only as a matter of principle,
but as a practical and tactical point. That is to say, ending the climate crisis not only requires
a confrontation with capitalism, but to frame the narrative this way is necessary to succeed.
Liberalism has failed utterly to address the climate crisis. The targets set by the international
community in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and others, promise far
too little to actually prevent global warming. This matters not, however, as countries are not
keeping to their targets, or are simply withdrawing from the agreements. That the powers that
be can’t even keep to the paltry targets they set themselves is telling.
Meanwhile, communities in the global south face the brunt of the already devastating effects
of climate change. Drought, famine, and floodings are on the rise, which themselves lead to
war and conflict, increasing the body count even more. This crisis is already happening, but
the west is as of yet relatively unscathed. This too is changing, with those fleeing the
aforementioned disasters and conflicts increasingly finding themselves at the borders of
fortress Europe and the United States, and the Science-Denier-in-Chief Donald Trump having
protective walls built to protect his golf course on the county Clare coast from the effects of
climate change.
Given this background, and the name of Extinction Rebellion, one would assume that a real

fight is being put up. But, with a handful of exceptions, one would be wrong. Members of XR
Dublin brought their protest to Pennies to combat the scourge of working people buying
clothes in the only shop they can afford. In London many Tube Stations were targeted by
protesters who were seemingly unaware that public transport is in fact incredibly good for the
environment, as it reduces traffic and emissions, and that CEOs and politicians tend not to
use the Tube in rush hour. People who use the tube, generally speaking, work in offices and
service jobs, and it shouldn’t need to be outlined why targeting working people is not how
mass movements are formed.
Those in power know what kind of threat they are facing, should XR figure out what popular
movements can achieve, but they need not worry. After a section 14 order banning XR
protests from London, and a slew of arrests of activists and organisers, one released
campaigner sent a bundle of flowers “To all the kind souls at Brixton police station, for all
you have done with decency and professionalism”. This kind of bootlicking is pretty
offensive when put into the context of black Britons dying in custody, including in the same
Brixton police station. In Dublin, too, there is the hauntingly stupid chant-cum-singsong of
“Gardaí, Gardaí, we love you. We’re doing this for your children too” which accompanied
Gardaí shoving and grabbing protesters to allow TD’s cars remain scratch free. Pretty
pathetic move from a group calling themselves a rebellion.
Green party leader Eamonn Murphy has recently stated that people in rural Ireland don’t need
so many cars, as a village of 300 people could possibly share 30. He might be right, but as a
man in a position to fight for vast expansion of public transport in rural Ireland, it was pretty
insulting. He has since emphasised that he didn’t mean it like that, and that it’s the public
who are wrong for not understanding his ideas. Again in the Green Party anyone can see a
recognition that the world is practically on fire, and a political solution that doesn’t really
address this basic truth, and is too unpopular to ever be implemented anyway.
It’s worth noting here that most liberal environmental activists consider the ending of global
warming the main issue, and that “socialism” is toxic in the public imagination, and getting
basic reforms with left/right consensus is the only way. Consider, then, the Yellow Vest
movement, as well as the rise of Eco-Fascism. Neo-Liberal thought leader and president of
France Emanual Macron introduced a standard set of tax reforms with some nods to the
environment in the form of increased fuel tax. Rightly seeing the disproportionate increases
to the cost of living for working and middle class people compared to the wealthy as unjust,
hundreds of people from across political divides took to the streets in some of the most
violent protests in recent memory, demanding, among other things, a decrease to the fuel tax
and the reintroduction of the “solidarity tax on wealth”. So much for the myth that liberal
reforms are easy to get consensus on, but socialist policies scare the masses.
Compare this to the increasingly popular idea in the US of a “Green New Deal”. Not a set of
extra taxes on the average joe, nor a bedraggled band of misguided hippy cosplayers thanking
the police for their brutality, but some form of positive investment and change. Most major
players on the left of the democratic party, and even some of the more cynical in the centre,
have endorsed the idea of the New Deal of the Roosevelt era being reimplemented, but this

time with environmentalism. Investment in healthcare, green energy, public transport, and
other necessary eco-friendly industries to not just prevent sky-rocketing living costs with the
reduction in oil dependency, but to actively provide good, well paying employment for the
millions of people who currently work in the fossil fuel industry. With increased automation
in so many industries, any kind of jobs program could prove popular.
At this stage in the game it is reckless and irresponsible for activists to even consider giving
established politics another chance to solve this crisis. There’s a world to save, and liberalism
has proven itself not fit for purpose.