Many countries around the globe are becoming less democratic. This backsliding on democracy and “Creeping authoritarianism,” as the U.S. State Department puts it, is often supported by the same industries that are escalating climate change.
In my new book, “Global Burning: Rising Antidemocracy & the Climate Crisis,” I lay out connections between these industries and the politicians who are both stalling action on climate change and diminishing democracy.
It’s a dangerous shift, both for representative government and for the future climate.
Environmental politics is being taken over by corporate interests
In democratic systems elected leaders are expected. protect the public’s interestsThese include exploitation by corporations. They do this primarily by implementing policies that secure public goods such as clean air, unpolluted water, and human welfare such as minimum wages and working conditions. In recent decades, however, this core democratic principle which prioritizes citizens over corporate profit has been reaffirmed. been aggressively undermined.
Today, it’s easy to find political leaders – on both the political right and left – Working for corporationsIn energy, finance and agribusiness, as well as in the military and pharmaceutical sectors. These multinational companies Help fund their political careersand to run election campaigns to keep them in power.
In the U.S., this relationship was cemented by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United. The decision allowed corporations to spend virtually unlimited amounts and wealthy donors could support the candidates that best served their interests. Data shows that Candidates who have the largest amount of outside funding win.. This has led to an increase in corporate Influence on politicians and party policies.
When it comes to the political parties, it’s easy to find examples of campaign finance fueling political agendas.
In 1988, NASA scientists created the first ever spacecraft. James Hansen testifiedBefore a U.S. Senate Committee about the greenhouse effect, both Republican and Democratic parties took climate changes seriously. But, their attitudes quickly diverged. Since the 1990sThe energy sector has heavily funded conservative candidates to push its interests and help reduce regulations for the fossil fuel industry. This has allowed fossil fuel production to expand and increased CO2 emissions. dangerous levels.
The industry’s power in shaping policy plays out in examples like the coalition of 19 Republican state attorneys general and coal companies Blockade litigationThe Environmental Protection Agency regulates greenhouse gas emissions from power plant.
The energy sector has tried to influence climate policy, but it has also succeeded in achieving the opposite. undermine the public’s understandingClimate science. ExxonMobil was one of the participants in a number of climate science events. widespread climate-science denial campaignFor years, more than $30 million was spent on lobbyists and think tanks to promote climate science skepticism. These efforts continue today. A 2019 report revealed that the five largest oil companies had spent approximately $2.5 trillion. Over $1 billion spent on misleadingly climate-related lobbying campaigns and branding campaignsThe previous three years.
The energy industry is now in effect The democratic political process was capturedThey prevented the enactment effective climate policies.
Corporate interests have also fueled an increase in antidemocratic leaders with well-financed resources who are willing to stall existing climate policies and regulations, or even derail them. These political leaders’ tacticsPublic health crises have gotten worse, and in some cases, there have been human rights violations.
Brazil, Australia, and The U.S.
Many governments that are deeply antidemocratic are tied to oil, natural gas, and other extractive industries, which are driving climate change. These include Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
In “Global Burning,” I explore how three leaders of traditionally democratic countries – Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Scott Morrison of Australia, and Donald Trump in the U.S. – came to power on anti-environment and nationalist platforms appealing to an extreme-right populist base and extractive corporations that are driving climate change. Although each country’s political landscape is unique, there are important commonalities between the three leaders.
Bolsonaro, Morrison,And TrumpAll rely on extractive corporations for funding electoral campaigns.
For example, Bolsonaro’s power depends on support from a powerful right-wing association of landowners and farmers called the União Democrática Ruralista, or UDR. This association represents foreign investors, specifically in the multibillion dollar mining and agribusiness industries. Bolsonaro said that he would continue to do so if elected in 2019. He would openly demolish environmental protections.In the name and honor of economic progress industrial-scale soybean productionAnd cattle grazingIn the Amazon rainforest. Both are contributing to climate change and deforestation of a fragile region that is crucial for carbon removal from the atmosphere.
Bolsonaro, Morrison,And TrumpThey are all openly skeptical about climate science. They have all ignored, weakened, or demolished environmental protection regulations, which is not surprising. Brazil saw a rapid decline in forest cover and extensive Amazon rainforest fires.
In Australia, Morrison’s government ignored Opposition from the public and scientists is widespreadAnd opened the controversial Adani Carmichael mineOne of the largest coal mines worldwide. The mine will have an impact on public health and the climate. It also threatens the Great Barrier Reef. temperatures riseThe coast is home to many ports.
Notably, the three leaders have sometimes worked together against international efforts to end climate change. At the United Nations climate talks in Spain in 2019, Costa Rica’s minister for environment and energy at the time, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, blamed Brazil, Australia, and the U.S. for Blocking effortsClimate injustice resulting from global warming must be addressed
These responses to climate change are not exclusive to Brazil, Australia, or the U.S. There have been many similar convergences in the world of antidemocratic leaders who were financed by extractive companies and who implemented climate change. Anti-environment policies and lawsThey defend corporate profits. The current moment is marked by the fact that these leaders are openly using state power against their citizens to secure corporate land grabs in order to build dams and dig mines.
For example: TrumpThe support of Deployment of the National GuardTo disperse Native Americans, environmental activists and others protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. He had previously been involved in this project. personally invested in. His administration also Proposed harsher punishments for pipeline protestersThis was the same as the legislation that was promoted by American Legislative Exchange CouncilThe, whose members include legislators and lobbyists for oil industry. Several Republican-led states enacted Similar anti-protest laws.
Brazil is now Bolsonaro Changed lawsIn ways that encourage land grabers to Encourage small farmers to support Indigenous peopleTheir land in the rainforest.
What can people do to stop it?
There are many things that people can do to help protect democracy and the environment.
Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, and reducing forest destruction. These are the things you should do. The biggest obstacles, a recent U.N. Climate ReportNotable are the national leaders who refuse to regulate fossil fuel corporations, reduce greenhouse gases emissions, or plan for new energy production.
As I see it, the only way forward is for voters to reverse the global trend towards authoritarianism. Like Slovenia did in 2022 April., and pushing for the replacement of fossil fuels with sustainable energy. People can regain their democratic rights and vote for anti-environment governments that prioritize extractive capitalism over the best interest of their citizens.
This article has been republished by The Conversationunder Creative Commons license Please read the Original article.