Opinion and reporting by Mathew Carr
Aug. 3, 2023 — What is predatory delay of climate action?
Predatory delay is the deliberate attempt to slow or stop action on climate change in order to protect the interests of those who benefit from the status quo. This can take many forms, such as lobbying against climate legislation, funding climate denial campaigns, or simply dragging out negotiations.
Why is predatory delay important?
The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The longer we wait to take action that actually makes a difference, the worse the consequences will be. Predatory delay is a major obstacle to climate action, and it is important to understand how it works in order to overcome it.
The US and Chinese governments — two of the biggest predators
How does predatory delay work?
Predatory delay works by exploiting the fact that climate change is a complex issue with no easy solutions. This allows those who benefit from the status quo to sow doubt and confusion about the science of climate change, the costs of action, and the feasibility of alternatives.
By delaying action, they can buy time to continue profiting from activities that are contributing to the climate crisis. Let’s be clear here — it’s not surprising that companies such as oil companies seek to continue to exploit a bad system, one where the destruction of the climate is incentivized.
What is more surprising is that governments are not seeing that it’s in their interest to change market rules to protect the climate for the voters who put them in power. The public debate is skewed to blame companies instead of governments. That provides cover for the individual politicians and demonstrates that the fault lies partly, or even largely, with the media.
Still, it is the job of politicians to ignore bad lobbying efforts and false media messaging — and focus on the long-term good for society. It’s up to them to see through the bullshit. That’s why they are mainly to blame.
Because the US-dominated global capitalist system is designed and managed largely by US dominated institutions (and corporations), the US government holds most blame for predatory delay of climate action.
Indeed, the US also has put more heat trapping gas into the atmosphere, even though it has only 4% of the world’s population. China, with 18% of the population, is overtaking the US in regard to historical climate damage, yet it makes a lot of stuff on behalf of Americans, so the US is partly to blame for Chinese emissions.
Fake tension between China and the US is largely to blame for the delay of climate action since the Paris climate deal was struck in 2015 — eight long years ago. Guess who benefited most in that time from the delay? See these three charts.
Stoking geopolitical tension also boosts the share prices of weapons makers — eg Lockheed Martin Corp’s stock value has doubled since 2015. Capital diverted to the military is not spent on mitigating climate change or on adaptation to global heating and dangerous weather. The poor and vulnerable suffer most.
Could reverse engineering of UFO tech help save the climate? Have we had the tech all along? We might find out soonish.
Here is some of the trade context of predatory delay of climate action
Why is it important to address predatory delay?
Predatory delay is a serious threat to our planet and our future. The longer we wait to take action on climate change, the more difficult and expensive it will be to mitigate the effects. We need to address predatory delay in order to ensure that we have a chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
What can we do to address predatory delay?
There are a number of things that we can do to address predatory delay. We can:
- Educate ourselves about the science of climate change and the need for action.
- Counter bad messaging in the media
- Call out and punish politicians who distract from what’s important — ie the ones that fail to focus on climate measures that change market rules to repair climate damage, eg making polluters pay, removing fossil-fuel subsidies; protectionist programs like the US Inflation Reduction Act are less effective because they don’t immediately deter the bad behavior of releasing heat-trapping gas.
- Support organizations that are working to fight predatory delay.
- Contact our elected officials and demand that they take effective action on climate change, rather than just pretend to protect the climate.
- Get involved in local climate-action initiatives — such as limiting new oil and natural gas licences in countries that have already used their fair share of the global carbon budget.
By taking these steps, we can help to overcome predatory delay and ensure that we take the action that is necessary to protect our planet.
Predatory delay is a serious obstacle to climate action, but it is not insurmountable. By understanding how it works and taking steps to address it, we can help to ensure that we take the action that is necessary to ensure we limit damage to the climate. Unfortunately, much damage is already baked in and those holding political and economic power seem unwilling to act with a multi-decade outlook.
(Adds Lockheed chart, trade context, written with the help of Google Bard.)