WE NEED IMMEDIATE, RADICAL ACTION ON CLIMATE – NOT DEAD-END TOKENISM
Our statement on the deeply regressive position the Cork Greens have taken on Local Property Tax, calling for a 15% hike last week:
On 16 September, the Cork Greens proposed a 15% increase in the deeply regressive Local Property Tax (LPT) to fund infrastructure upgrades such as cycling lanes in Cork. They have since defended their call by claiming that this will raise €3m per year, costing around €50 per year for most families – a sign of how they sadly join the mainstream parties in overlooking the financial strain that many households are under.
It’s not that those of us on the left disagree with the Greens that better infrastructure is needed to allow for more sustainable modes of transport than cars (in fact, we go further than the Greens in our proposals for free public transport and investment in better infrastructure). The problem is that the Greens are insisting on funding these upgrades through increasing a regressive tax on ordinary homeowners – a tax that should never have been introduced in the first place. For a start, upgrades to infrastructure to create viable alternatives to car travel are needed on a much bigger scale than the few million they would raise. These upgrades should be funded through a heavy, fair tax on the wealthiest.
The limits of the Green Party are very clear just months after they benefited from the “green wave” in Irish local elections. Their calls to raise LPT is in many ways not surprising – their leader Eamonn Ryan has called for doubling of Carbon Taxes on ordinary people. It would be nice to think that a party that went from having 12 to 49 councillors between 2014 and 2019 could use that position to point out what a dead-end it is to tax ordinary people to try and sort out a problem caused very directly by the decisions made by corporations and the Irish and international governments who legislate on their behalf. Their stance with these taxes is likely to backfire and foment a distrust in their brand of environmental politics.
But far more concerning is this: they are a party that is largely now setting the agenda on all things environmental. And the only solutions they propose to environmental problems are taxation of ordinary people. This punishes those who do not control the climate crisis, while we know that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions and that almost 50% of emissions are produced by the richest 10% of the world’s population. The Green Party’s taxation route poses two particular dangers to meeting the climate crisis:
1) It risks alienating the majority of people from the issue climate action, who we need to put pressure on the government to take the meaningful action needed, such as mass public investment in transport, ensuring that remaining fossil fuels stay in the ground, a public retrofitting programme to make homes energy-efficient.
There is already a large school of thought that believes climate change is merely an excuse governments use to raise taxes, and the Greens play right into that false narrative. Their obsession with regressive taxes and relative silence when it comes to corporate destruction of the planet will only help climate denial to grow, with constant reference to increased burdens on the working class driving people towards climate denialism.
2) The focus on raising pitiful amounts of money through regressive taxation is a tokenistic dead-end which will not go anywhere near tackling the problems that we face. Anyone serious about taking on the fight against climate change needs to first fully accept that climate change is a problem that will never be addressed by taxing us all individually. Serious political change is required to alter the behaviour of the 1% and limit their destruction of the planet. That’s the only way we’re going to build a world not at threat of extinction.
We call on the Cork Greens to renege on their proposal to raise the LPT and to take climate change seriously. We do not have time for ineffective and divisive half-measures. We need a climate movement of the majority that is uncompromising about holding the to account the super rich and corporations responsible for the majority of emissions – not ordinary people.
#climateactionnow #systemchangenotclimatechange #taxtherich