Venezuela, capitalism & climate change

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst who lives in New York City, and is an activist with the International Action Center and Workers World Party. He was part of the Occupy Wall Street mo

Reuters / Edgard Garrido

The problem of global climate change is distressing almost everyone. While a small minority may deny its existence, or question reports on its causes among the scientific community, it is universally recognized as a serious cause for concern.

The super-hurricanes
over the last decade are closely linked to rising temperatures of
sea water, and this is just a small taste of what may lie ahead.
Something must be done, the question is what?

The responses of governments around the world to the
environmental crisis, and its catastrophic weather events, have
varied. Various treaties have been signed. Various international
conferences have been convened to discuss the issue. A great deal
of research has been conducted, and many different plans for
changing the relationship of humans to the ecosystem have been

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has just announced its plan
to fight climate change. Claudia Salerno, Vice Minister for North
America at the Venezuelan Mission to the United Nations,
explained her country’s proposals fight climate change at a
special meeting with the press May 30. She summed up the plan
saying: “Venezuela’s contribution is to change the system,
not the climate.”

As Salerno laid out the details of the plan, it became clear that
the Venezuelan government is aware of what so many
environmentalists in the United States cannot bring themselves to
say. The failure of governments around the world to address the
unfolding ecological crisis is caused by one thing: profits. The
changes that desperately must be made to human civilization to
stop the climate crisis all cut into the ability of billionaires
to make money. They require that restrictions and regulations be
implemented. “Our economies are damaging the
Salerno declared.

Salerno pointed out what Venezuela has done. She talked of how
the Bolivarian constitution protects the environment. Though
Venezuela produces a great deal of oil, 70 percent of the
country’s energy is hydroelectric. Venezuela invests $500 million
per year into alternative energy. Already, the Bolivarian
government has replaced 155 million inefficient light bulbs with
newly developed eco-friendly ones. A program to replace other
household appliances with more eco-friendly ones is in the works.

A total of 58 million hectares of forest in Venezuela are
protected, and a mass program of reforestation is being carried
out. The Venezuelan government has created a massive public
transit system, and is the in process of expanding it. Plans
specifically include connecting the countryside with the cities,
and breaking down the division between the rural and urban parts
of the country. Public transportation is much cleaner, much more
efficient, and much better for the global environment.

Salerno explained that the effort to fight climate change must be
“beyond the government.” A mass movement of public
awareness must be created. The Venezuelan plan to fight climate
change, as articulated by Salerno, includes expanding
participatory democracy, and involving everyday Venezuelans in
actively changing the economy and the culture. They include
providing more free education, because “When you educate
people, they pollute less.”

Changes made possible with revolution

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the product of massive
struggles. Hugo Chavez began the process after being
democratically elected, but almost immediately he faced an
attempted coup by “opposition” forces aligned with the
United States. After a mass uprising of everyday Venezuelans, and
rank-and-file soldiers, the coup was pushed back and Chavez
returned to power. Chavez built a mass movement of trade unions,
community assemblies and others who backed his presidency and
supported his policies. With a new constitution, Venezuela is now
seizing the property of foreign capitalists, and promoting worker
cooperatives. Chavez successor, Nicolas Maduro seeks to continue
the “Bolivarian Process” begun by Chavez and the mass
popular movement behind him. Their goal is the creation of a
socialist society, and the debate goes on each day about how to
reach this end.

The wealthy capitalists in Venezuela, and their allies in the
United States and Britain, are seeking to overturn the Venezuelan
government. US media demonizes Maduro and the United Socialist
Party, calling them “dictators” despite their record of
legitimately winning elections by large margins. The Venezuelan
“opposition” has grown increasingly violent, burning
buildings and rioting, all while being supported by the United

Venezuelan officials have stressed that these massive efforts are
“not enough.” They want to be part of a global
conversation about creating a long-term plan to combat the
climate crisis, and to ensure safety and security for future
generations. Salerno called for a “revolution within the
to allow programs to be implemented on an international
level. Venezuela hopes that a legally binding agreement can be
established to fight climate change, and all states can be
obligated to take certain measures.

If the economy continues to be structured as it currently is,
under the command of a small group of western bankers on Wall
Street, in London, and in Berlin and Frankfurt, things will not
change. Venezuela, moving toward socialism with its
“Bolivarian Process” is leading the world in fighting
climate change. It has taken great measures within its own
borders, and it hoping to pull other countries along the road of
ecological security. It should be no surprise that such sweeping
measures toward building a better future for the planet by
restructuring the economy, come from a country that has broken
out of Wall Street’s control.

As China leads the world in green technology, and Cuba is being
praised for its urban gardens and energy efficiency, why should
anyone continue to think that Wall Street has the answer to the
climate crisis? Commercials about “beyond petroleum” and
marketing gimmicks about “organic” and
“ecofriendly” products will not save us.

Salerno described the process in Venezuela as “changing
things from the bottom up.”
Such changes are only possible
with the overturning of the current economic set up, where
billionaires lead us toward war, poverty and climate disaster.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (3)

herman gonzales 03.06.2014 21:48

no options for change are successful in the short term. of course venezuela is a mess. but at least there is an effort to build a society based on life instead of profit. lary is a brain washed escualido–only hate and a willingness to see all except usa sycophants killed.

James Reese 03.06.2014 19:37

Whether you believe in Global Warming or Climate Change or deny these theories, you can’t deny the obvious effects of POLLUTION all around us. Before the days of Global Warming and Climate Change science. Activists were very concerned about all kinds of POLLUTION, it was essentially the birth of ecological activists like Green Peace and others. Everyone should be able to agree that POLLUTION needs to be stopped.

Lary 03.06.2014 18:37

Caleb – you should get out of NYC one in a while and see what actually happening in real world. How can Venezuela fight global warming when it has LOWEST gas price in the world through subsidies.

– Venezuela is replacing light bubs – what a laugh!
they are rationing electricity and water.

-the y are preserving forests?! they don’t manufacture any paper – their newspapers are shutting down due to lack of paper and there’s no toilet paper in stores.

-th ey are replacing appliances?! There are NO appliances for sale – the stores are empty. You have to get on a Gov waiting list for an appliance.

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