Complete fracking and drilling ban call

The prospect of a complete ban on on-shore drilling for oil and gas has been welcomed by Workers Party representative in Lagan Valley, Patrick Crossan, but he has also warned against complacency.

“The possibility of legislation which would put us on a par with the rest of these islands is good news but a much more comprehensive approach is needed if we are to secure our environment and the health of the community”, he said  

“There are too many loopholes and get-out clauses in the current bill”, Patrick warned. “Only a complete and comprehensive ban on fracking and on shore oil and gas drilling will do”

We have already seen the potentially disastrous use of chemical cocktails in drilling operations here and one of the pending applications takes in areas around Lough Neagh which supplies 40% of our drinking water”. Patrick said

Tynan tells it as it is

Workers Party President, Cllr. Ted Tynan, has told a climate change rally in Cork, held to coincide with the COP 26 meetings in Glasgow, that capitalism, its insane overproduction and its relentless pursuit of profit at any cost, is  the overwhelmingly critical factor in global warning and the biggest threat to the safety of our environment. 

“Nobody should be fooled into believing that this global, and human created, crisis can be laid anywhere but at the door of capitalism, the multi national organisations and the corporate tycoons.”. Ted said  .

“Capitalism has always sought to make workers pay for the consequences of its actions and distract from its culpability”, he said . “It is attempting to do exactly that now by telling us that each individual must reduce their own carbon footprint  to save the planet, while it continues to plunder the worlds assets, its forests and its natural resources in the pursuit of profit”. 

“Only a socialist system can save the environment, protect the planet and secure our future. “Red is Green”, he said, “a better, safer life is possible, but only in a socialist society”.

Climate Change – there is an alternative

Speaking at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow,  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told delegates that “…addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink”, saying “we face a stark choice – either we stop it, or it stops us. We are digging our own graves.”

The warning is indeed stark, and the UN Secretary General has science on his side. Research by climate scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Institute indicates that if global warming rises above 2°C (relative to the pre-industrial era), sea levels  could rise by several metres, submerging many coastal areas around the world.

Arctic summer sea ice and permafrost will disappear, which will  further accelerate global heating by releasing methane, which is eight times more toxic than carbon dioxide, resulting in the extinction of up to 30 percent of the species that currently exist and increasing the chances of a sudden collapse of the earth’s ecological systems.

Guterres is right to say that we face a stark choice. But his analysis doesn’t go far enough. ‘We’ are not ‘addicted’ to oil. This is not a lifestyle issue, and ‘we’ are not all in this as equals. The US military emits more greenhouse gases than Portugal or Sweden. If the Pentagon was a country its emissions would make it the world’s 55th largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Similarly, according to a 2017 report,100 huge companies have been responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1998. But to focus only on these enormously destructive polluters would be to miss the most important point.

Capitalism as a system is based on over production and continuous growth. This requires the consumption of fossil fuels, which results in growing emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten to bring about global social and ecological catastrophes, on an even greater scale than those that are already evident. Only a social change to production for need rather than for profit can bring any hope of positive and substantive environmental change.

In terms of hope, the stakes are so enormously high and the projected outcomes of ‘capitalism as usual’ are so terrible that, that people will either react with despair or apathy and accept the pseudo ‘lifestyle’ and market-based ‘solutions’ offered by all shades of pro-capitalist opinion.

However, another world is possible. The alternative is to replace the Capitalist system and establish Socialism to save the planet and life on earth.

Only a Socialist Economy can save the Environment

Concerns about the environment and climate change have featured highly in news agendas throughout the past week as the United Nations IPPC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) declared a global ‘Code Red’ wakeup call and the need for immediate, urgent and decisive action.

A special meeting of the NI Assembly has been called also to discuss climate change and will be held ahead of the international climate conference organised by the United Nations in Glasgow during October.

Evidence ignored

Scientific evidence about the dangers of climate change have been ignored consistently by governments and multinational companies alike for decades. The current urgency has been prompted by a series of heatwaves, flash floods, forest fires and record high temperatures all attributable to increasing CO2 omissions.

The lengths to which some government’s, major companies and sections of the media will go to muddy the waters and deflect responsibility are significant. Placing responsibility on individuals – urging us all to use less aerosol deodorant for example – or diverting attention away from the polluters by listing the problem by ‘offending countries’ in a deliberate and dishonest attempt to shift the focus from where it should be.

Damaging changes to the atmosphere, and subsequently the global environment, are caused by the release of ‘greenhouse gases’ (carbon dioxide). The dangerous levels are the direct result of overproduction one of the key characteristics of the capitalist system. Capitalist production operates with one purpose in mind: creating maximum profits for individuals and multinational corporations, irrespective of the consequences for the economy or for the environment.

Capitalism tries to avoid responsibility for the damage it does to the environment. It pushes the responsibility and costs onto others. It is doing it now and it will continue if unchallenged.


Attributing responsibility for climate change to the actions of individuals or specific countries is a smokescreen.

Just 20 global companies are responsible for over 35% of all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere in the last six decades. Most are oil or fossil fuel producers.  The United States military and its global reach ranks 47th in the list of global polluters, and that is based only on its fuel usage.

For as long as the environment is treated as an expendable commodity it will always be at risk.

Unless the central and fundamental issue of the role of capitalist production is addressed, challenged and reversed, the problems for the environment will persist and worsen. Unfortunately, many ‘Greens’ and environmentalists fail to understand or accept this.

Health Warning

While the decision of the NI Assembly to hold a special debate on Climate Change is welcome, it must also come with a health warning. The very people who will be debating the future of the environment are the same MLAs who granted licences for drilling and the use of cyanide for mineral extraction in Greencastle, Co Tyrone an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a fracking licence using a cocktail of chemicals in the search for oil in an area in Co Antrim just a few hundred meters from a water reservoir supplying thousands of local homes.

The environment is not safe in the hands of the current Assembly. It is not safe in the custody of capitalist production.

The Workers Party will be making a formal submission to the Assembly setting out the socialist alternative to safeguarding the environment and the health and well-being of our citizens.