Los Angeles - Presidential candidate Cornel West called today for the nationalization of the, oil, coal and natural gas industries and an immediate halt to fossil fuel extraction to combat the climate crisis.
“Democrats and Republicans are complicit in granting immunity to fossil fuel cartels to dig, slash, and burn our planet, accelerating global warming and creating vast toxic wastelands, sacrifice zones, inhabited by the poorest and most vulnerable,” West said.
West said there is no time left, given the climate emergency, for “milquetoast reforms” such as Joe Biden’s so-called Inflation Reduction Act.
“These programs are window dressing,” he said. “They will not significantly reduce emissions to avert climate catastrophe.”
West excoriated the subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, which range from $10 to $50 billion per year. Fossil fuel subsidies globally were estimated at $1 trillion last year, even as the Oil giants earned some $4 trillion, according to the International Energy Agency.
The arctic ice, West noted, is vanishing at rates that were unforeseen.
“Even if we stop carbon emissions today – we have already reached 419 parts per million – carbon dioxide concentrations will continue to climb to as high as 550 ppm because of heat trapped in the oceans,” he said. “Global temperatures will rise for at least another century. The earth is rapidly becoming inhospitable to most life.”
The average global temperature has risen, West warned, by about 1.1 Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880.
West said the climate emergency, which requires a “swift and radical” response, is one of the major reasons for his campaign..
“On my first day in office I will use the National Emergencies Act, the Defense Production Act, and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to order an immediate cessation of all oil and gas leasing projects on federal lands and waters,” West said. “I will impose a ban on the poisonous practice of fracking. I will demand an immediate moratorium on liquefied natural gas facilities. I will cancel proposed fossil fuel projects including Joe Manchin’s Mountain Valley Pipeline and Joe Biden’s Willow Project. All extraction projects on indigenous land will be halted if they do not have the consent of Native Americans.”
West said the ownership of fossil fuel corporations must be shifted to local, state and federal governments, removing control over our natural resources from the billionaire class to the public.
“The Green New Deal will only be possible once these oil, gas and coal corporations become publicly owned,” he said. “Until that happens the fossil fuel industry will continue to stymie serious environmental reform through its bought-and-paid for political class.”
West rejected the claim that environmental reform means economic deprivation.
“The corporate duopoly wants us to believe that the choice is between economic prosperity and environmental controls,” he said. “But the cost of refusing to confront this crisis, much of it already backed into the ecosystem, far, far outweighs whatever costs it takes to convert to renewable energy. We must emancipate ourselves from fossil fuels or be prepared for whole zones of the planet to become uninhabitable from extreme heat, toxic air, drought, wildfires and rising seas. This is a choice between sanity and greed. Greed has won out for too long.”
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