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Why Green Energy Won't Help Stop Climate Change


[…] when they promote green energy, because in doing so they assume that more green energy means less fossil fuel energy. That assumption is basically saying that total energy production is like a pie. Right now, one slice of the pie (11%) comes from green energy, and nine slices come from non-renewables, mostly fossil fuels.


What is the fundamental feature of the capitalist economy that currently dominates the planet? It is based on growth, and in fact if there is no growth, the system collapses.


But now that governments, businesses, and NGOs around the world are making an unprecedented push for renewable energies, surely green energy will be able to grow fast enough to catch up, right?

[…] green energy is not replacing any of the energy from fossil fuels and it isn’t even stopping the growth of fossil fuels. While green energy grows, fossil fuels grow even more.

A basic understanding of capitalism should have made this outcome predictable, which means we are all being lied to. A slightly more complex understanding paints an even dirtier picture.

[…] when a competing source of energy arrives on the scene, the political winds shift, and that competing source receives support and subsidies so that it has a chance of producing cheaper electricity? Do the capitalists with major investments in fossil fuel infrastructure just call it quits, congratulate their competitors, and head home?

No. They lower the prices in order to stay competitive, in order not to lose all the fixed capital represented by their fossil fuel infrastructures.


But the full truth is even worse. Not only has green energy increased the burning of fossil fuels, wind energy, solar energy, biomass, and hydro power—when produced at an industrial scale—are all extremely damaging to humans and the environment. They require the massive theft of land (usually the land of Indigenous people and poor people), the destruction of rivers and forests, and they are the motor for what may turn out to be the largest mining boom in human history, with the attendant amount of deadly water and air pollution, clear cutting, destruction of the soil, and land theft.

Green energy has been successful at only one thing: making more money for capitalists, even as it wreaks immense damage to the planet.

Why do people promote it? Many scientists and the people who trust them promote it because they believe they can understand a problem created by one specific form of human social organization by only studying the physical aspects of that problem, and not paying any attention at all to the systems that produced the problem.

[…] when the government faces a problem like the climate crisis, even if this is a problem that might kill us all, whatever solution they come up with has to satisfy a fundamental criterion: that it be good for the economy. Even if it is the economy that is killing us all. And that is why we have false solutions like green energy.


Criticizing green energy does not mean resigning ourselves to fossil fuels. A very different kind of renewable energy, utilizing the sun or the wind or biofuels but in a way that is designed for local, small scale production in an economy based not on growth but on meeting human and ecological needs, would actually be an important feature of an honest response to climate change. But that solution would be antithetical to government, antithetical to capitalism, antithetical to strip mining and land theft and all the other facets of colonialism.

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