Stopping privatization is fighting climate change | Graham Cox

by Graham H. Cox last modified 2015-05-20T09:58:10-04:00
Keeping climate change on the agenda between heat waves, droughts and ice storms might seem difficult as other current economic-system related tragedies take centre stage. However, we should not leave out climate change and its connection to capitalism when talking about privatizations of infrastructure and the undermining of democratic oversight and control of utilities.

Sure, capitalism and rich people investing in carbon-intensive companies are annoying, but more importantly it is the private ownership of energy production that is the real barrier to dealing with climate change.

Positive examples of what can be done through public ownership of energy are popping up all over the world. China just reduced its yearly emissions as much as all the UK emissions simply by deciding to switch its mix of generation sources. It still has a long way to go, but China was able to do this simply because state regulation and control in the sector is still dominant. Unfortunately, as electricity reform in China continues, the increase in private ownership will make the shift to greener generation more difficult.

Alternatively, looking at the expansion of public ownership of electricity utilities in South America and remunicpalization in Europe are examples for anti-privatization campaigners to emulate. For example, the end of contracts in Ontario's few private local distribution companies are coming up in 2018. Perhaps it is time to go on the offensive and call for remunicipalization of these utilities and reform the failing electricity market in Alberta and Ontario.

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