Given the climate emergency our planet earth is facing, with accelerating global heating and devastating biodiversity loss, any initiative by a government which proclaims its aim as “greening the economy” deserves critical examination for both its importance and limitations.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s announcement, on India’s 75th Independence Day, of the government’s plan to launch a National Hydrogen Mission is one such initiative by an emerging economic power in the global economy.
Its stated purpose was to make India a production and export hub for green hydrogen. This is also believed to be linked to India’s aim to reduce its reliance on oil from Russia and the Middle East which has come into the limelight during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
That hydrogen is a problematic green energy resource as an alternative to fossil fuels is not generally recognised. This obfuscation characterises Indian government’s “green” hydrogen mission too.
Different types of hydrogen
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but for commercial use on earth it is produced either (i) from fossil gas, usually by steam reformation, or (ii) by the electrolysis of water. Electrolysis technology splits the hydrogen from oxygen in water.
More than 98% of hydrogen used commercially is “grey” – produced from gas. Left-over carbon is joined with oxygen and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Global hydrogen production’s carbon footprint is about four-fifths the size of the aviation sector’s.
LES LEVIDOW analyses the predominant political narrative on climate, and ways for social movements to oppose it
As embraced by the world’s most powerful governments, the predominant approach to climate change has three main elements: market mechanisms, technological fixes, and delay. Market-type policy instruments are meant eventually to stimulate novel techno-solutions which can decarbonise or replace high-carbon systems.
This techno-market framework has maintained a societal hegemony through a seductive narrative, namely: that a smooth low-carbon transition will become more feasible sometime in the future, as grounds to delay climate action for now.
These climate-delay narratives warrant scrutiny for their strategies, broad appeal and role in system continuity. Focusing on them, this article ends with ideas for counter-strategies towards system change.
As climate-change denial has become marginal, climate-delay has become a more important obstacle. Having initiated the US agenda for a Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deploys the epithet “climate delayer” against politicians who promote excuses for delaying effective action, especially the Democratic Party leadership.
Climate-delay narratives encompass a broad range of obstructors, excuses and delays. In the guise of sharpening debate, they raise questions that divert attention from decarbonisation solutions. Their strategies variously redirect responsibility, promote non-transformative solutions, emphasise disadvantages of climate action, and/or encourage a fatalistic surrender to climate change, according to an academic analysis published in the journal Global Sustainability.
Its authors argue that a prevalent strategy has been to divert the focus away from stringent decarbonisation measures, towards “technology and market-based measures with minimal interventions, even if these are ultimately insufficient to address the scale of the problem”.
This strategy has many variations, e.g. emphasising recent progress in renewable energy deployment, promoting techno-optimistic solutions (always falling short of the promised timeframe), and recurrently substituting new future solutions, e.g., zero-carbon airplanes, fusion power and direct air capture of greenhouse gases.
Kirill Butylin, one of the first Russians to protest against the war on Ukraine by firebombing a military recruitment centre, today marks his 22nd birthday in pre-trial detention.
Butylin made the protest at the centre in Lukhovitsy, near Moscow, on 28 February last year – three days after the all-out invasion, and one day after he turned 21. The building was empty and there were no casualties.
A couple of days ago, I set fire to the military recruitment centre at Lukhovitsy, Moscow region, and recorded it on GoPro. I painted the entrance with the colours of the Ukrainian flag, and wrote, “I will not go to kill my brothers!” After that I crawled under the fence, poured petrol on the front of the building, broke some windows, and threw Molotov cocktails through them. The aim was to destroy the archive containing details of those eligible for conscription that is held there. This will obstruct mobilisation in the area. I hope that I will not see my old classmates taken prisoner, or in the lists of those killed at the front.
I believe that we should do this everywhere. Ukrainians will know, that people in Russia are fighting for them – that not everyone is scared and not everyone is indifferent. Those who are protesting here need to take courage and act more decisively. And this will surely help to break the spirit of the Russian army and the government. Let those fuckers know that their own people hate them and will snuff them out. The land will soon be burning under their feet, and hell awaits them at home, too.
Update: On 15 March 2023, Kirill Butylin was sentenced to 13 years in a maximum security prison, on charges of terrorism, public advocacy of terrorism, and vandalism. Solidarity Zone said: “We recall, that only the exterior of the military recruitment centre was on fire. The fire service estimated the damage at 12,000 rubles [130 pounds sterling].”
Butylin was detained on the day the on-line manifesto was published. After the arson attack, he had got rid of his phone and travelled to the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, according to press reports. But he was detained there and extradited to Russia.
Good Night Imperial Pride raises funds for antiauthoritarian leftist fighters in the Ukrainian resistance. The current fundraiser is for night vision binoculars, for an anarchist snipers unit defending the city Bakhmut, where Putin’s forces are attempting to break through to relaunch a full-scale offensive. The device (costing €6,000) will help them stay safe and unseen by Russian forces.
Here is an interview with members of another unit that Good Night Imperial Pride has supported.
We talked to russian anarchists who fight in Armed Forces of Ukraineabout the front, life before a full-scale invasion and what it’s like to be a russian in the Ukrainian army. We asked both J and V (we can’t say their real names) the same questions, and they answered independently of each other.
Q. You are anarchists. What were you doing before the full scale war and why did you decide to go fight?
J. Before the war, I did the social media for a workers’ rights initiative. And I was part of a cool fundraising co-op. Because I lived in Ukraine, I was aware that russia could escalate the war. I knew that if this happened, defence would be needed. I used to go hiking, I knew quite a bit about weapons and tactics, so it wasn’t hard to adapt.
Russia is terrorising civilians, destroying Ukrainians’ homes and infrastructure; it wants to annihilate a whole people’s culture and identity. The only way to fight russia is by taking up arms. I’m glad to see that a lot of anarchists are realising this today.
V. What was I doing before the war? I rented out a flat on the outskirts with friends, I worked in IT, I was saving money to open my own falafel stall… And obviously, I was furthering the anarchist movement and preparing for the war 🙂
Armed resistance to the Russian regime is nothing but the next consistent and logical step in the political struggle which, for me, began around 2010-2011. On 24 February 2022, it was like getting to the final lap. I woke up and thought: right, it has started, let’s go. I thought: so I had to leave the country a few years ago, OK, but now this shameless filth is trying to reach here as well, now this is getting too far!
This state has systematically repressed all opposition, murdered and tortured those who were protesting, broken the lives of thousands of honest people who had nothing to do with anything. Having terrorised and brutalised its own people, it has decided to reach to its neighbour. This is a rare chance to defeat the Russian Federation and most of the security agencies the regime is propped up on. Would be a shame not to use it.
A statement by the Russian Socialist Movement group in emigration, on the nature of the war in Ukraine and the delusions of Western “pacifists”
For a year now, Vladimir Putin’s regime has been killing Ukrainians, sending hundreds of thousands of Russians to their deaths, and threatening the world with nuclear weapons in the name of the insane goal of restoring its empire.
For us Russians who oppose Putin’s aggression and dictatorship, it has been a year of horror and shame over the war crimes committed daily in our name.
On the one-year anniversary of this war, we call all those who yearn for peace to turn out for demonstrations and rallies against Putin’s invasion.
Unfortunately, not all the “peace” rallies taking place next weekend will be actions of solidarity with Ukraine. A large part of the left in the West does not understand the nature of this war and advocates compromise with Putinism.
We have written this statement to help our comrades abroad understand the situation and take the right stand.
A counterrevolutionary war
Some Western writers attribute the war to causes like the collapse of the USSR, the “contradictory history of the Ukrainian nation’s creation,” and geopolitical confrontation between nuclear powers.
Without denying the importance of these factors, we are surprised that these lists overlook the most important and obvious reason for what is happening: the Putin regime’s desire to suppress democratic protest movements throughout the former Soviet Union and in Russia itself.
The 2014 seizure of Crimea and hostilities in the Donbas were a response by the Kremlin to the “revolution of dignity” in Ukraine, which overthrew the corrupt pro-Russian administration of Viktor Yanukovych, as well as to Russians’ mass demonstrations for fair elections in 2011–12 (known as the Bolotnaya Square protests).
Annexing the Crimean Peninsula was a domestic policy win for Putin. He successfully used revanchist, anti-Western, and traditionalist rhetoric (as well as political persecution) to expand his social base, isolate the opposition, and turn the Maidan into a bogeyman with which to frighten the population.
But the popularity boost that followed the annexation was short-lived. The late 2010s saw economic stagnation, an unpopular pension reform, and high-profile anti-corruption revelations by Alexei Navalny’s team that dragged Putin’s ratings back down, especially among young people. Protests swept the country, and the ruling United Russia party suffered a series of painful defeats in regional elections.
This context has driven the Kremlin to place all its bets on conserving the regime. The 2020 constitutional referendum (which required rigging unprecedented even by Russian standards) effectively made Putin a ruler for life. Under the pretext of containing the COVID-19 pandemic, protest gatherings were finally banned. An attempt was made to poison extra-parliamentary opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which he miraculously survived.
The popular uprising of summer 2020 in Belarus confirmed the Russian elite’s belief that the “collective West” is waging a “hybrid war” against Russia, attacking it and its satellites with “colour revolutions.”
Of course, such claims are nothing more than a conspiracy theory. Social and political discontent in Russia has been growing due to record social inequality, poverty, corruption, rollbacks of civil liberties, and the obvious futility of the Russian model of capitalism, which is based on a parasitic fossil-fuel oligarchy appropriating natural resource rents.
The claim that the Nord Stream gas pipeline was blown up by US special forces, made last week by the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, is being used to reinforce false narratives about Russia’s culpability for the war in Ukraine.
On 26 September last year, explosions damaged three of Nord Stream’s four pipelines, which run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, and sent a large cloud of methane into the atmosphere. Russia has blamed the US; western media suspected Russia itself of sabotage.
Russian gas had been carried to Germany through the first pair of pipelines, Nord Stream 1, from 2012 until three weeks before the explosions.
Construction of the second pair of pipelines, Nord Stream 2, was completed in 2021, but authorisation to use them was denied by Germany on 22 February last year, in response to Russia’s preparations to invade Ukraine.
In the seven months between then and the explosions, the western powers piled sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion. The Kremlin retaliated by ordering Gazprom, the state-controlled gas holding company, to reduce gas exports to Europe, and effectively wreck a business it had spent more than thirty years building up.
I do not know who blew up the pipelines. But here I will show that (i) Hersh’s claims about the effect and purpose of the sabotage are factually incorrect, (ii) his account of the build-up to the explosion misses out huge chunks of the story and is grossly misleading, and (iii) his explanation for US motivation is flawed, and his failure to examine Russian motivation is one-sided.
The effect and purpose of the sabotage
Hersh suggests that the Nord Stream pipelines provided Germany with cheap Russian gas that it could not have got otherwise, and that, by blowing them up, the US cut off Russia from an important source of income for the gas.
Tom Lodge: ‘Treating Russia’s rulers as allies is short-sighted’
I think the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) are making a mistake in supporting Russian operations in Ukraine. [South African foreign minister] Naledi Pandor’s arguments are stretching the professed “neutrality” stance very thin. That said, Bob Myers’s article has too many mistakes to be taken seriously.
For example, Nelson Mandela in 1946 accompanied JB Marks on visits to the mineworkers’ compounds during the strike, speaking to kinsfolk who were among the isibondas who helped to supply local leadership. Far from opposing the strike, Youth Leaguers drew inspiration from it.
In 1957, local ANC leaders helped lead the Alexandra Bus boycott and the ANC helped organise solidarity boycotts elsewhere on the Rand. The politics of the boycott was complicated, and the ANC weren’t the only actors involved. There were disagreements over strategy, but it is simply untrue that the ANC refused support. The ANC bus owner was Richard Baloyi, but by the 1950s he no longer owned a bus company having been bought out by PUTCO in the aftermath of bus boycotts in the 1940s.
On Russia and Ukraine. That the ANC continues to have a sentimental regard for Russia is understandable, given the historic associations between Moscow and the anti-apartheid struggle (to which Ukrainians made a signal contribution as well). Naledi Pandor’s proposal that a multi-polar world might offer better developmental opportunities has merit. But Russia’s rulers preside over a criminalised capitalist autocracy. Treating them as allies is short-sighted.
Lesego Masisi: ‘It is not practical to take a stance that aids unilateralism’
One can’t be easily convinced by the contents of Bob Myers’s article, and what it ought to do, if they are grounded in solid analysis of current international geo-economics, in addition to a solid analysis of historical developments. Such lazy analyses seek to absorb some feeble/unsure leftists into right-wing and liberal (right-wing sympathisers) propaganda and conspiracy. It honestly takes away from South Africa’s sovereignty and its ability to think for itself.
This obviously does not mean that those who are involved in serious academia and the Genuine left are oblivious to the failures of the ANC in South Africa, and the Global Left, particularly in the context of historical institutional path dependency analysis, structuralist analysis and post-structuralist analysis of our current issues and how we found ourselves here today.
By the end of his long life, in 1910, Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy had become the greatest public critic of the Russian Tsarist empire. By destabilising the Romanov autocracy through his writings, which amounted to more than eighty volumes, Lev Nikolaevich became Tsar Nicholas II’s most significant rival.
As a result, the Governing Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated Tolstoy in 1901, a status he retains to this day. Alexei Suvorin, the editor of New Times [the late 19th century Russian journal], afterwards observed that Russia effectively had two Tsars: namely, Nicholas II and Tolstoy.
Indeed, the Imperial state had raided Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s family estate, in 1862; surveilled him for the last twenty-five years of his life; censored, banned, and burned his writings; and come close to executing him in 1891, after the translation of an explicitly anarchist essay of his came out in England. It was only thanks to the intervention of his cousin Alexandrine Tolstaya that Lev Nikolaevich survived this last episode.
It is therefore highly disconcerting to see photographs on social media that show Tolstoy’s face plastered—alongside those of fellow artists Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol, who were Russian and Ukrainian, respectively—on a high fence surrounding the ruins of the Mariupol Drama Theatre in occupied southeastern Ukraine.
The Drama Theatre is the site of a horrific massacre perpetrated by Russian forces in March 2022. An estimated 300 Ukrainian civilians died there while seeking shelter from the ruthless invasion. In parallel, the new documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, provides grisly and heartbreaking evidence of the widespread war crimes, and crimes against humanity, committed by the Russian military as it stormed the city.
In this light, the decision by Vladimir Putin’s regime to cover up one of the worst of these atrocities using Tolstoy and Gogol’s faces amounts to little more than cynical trolling. Such “bourgeois coldness” is consistent with the far-right’s attempt to rationalise ultra-violent barbarism across the globe. Given Tolstoy’s artistic critiques of violence and militarism, the scene is simply absurd.
Yet, confronted with Russia’s genocidal attack, Ukrainians are now engaged in a debate about how, or even whether, to engage with Russian artists and intellectuals. Last year, a Ukrainian Education Ministry working group recommended excluding several Russian and Soviet writers, including Tolstoy, from school curricula – but Ukraine’s proposed bans on literature published in Russia and Belarus appear to provide exceptions for Pushkin and Tolstoy’s works. Last month, citizens of Kyiv voted to rename Tolstoy Square the Square of Ukrainian Heroes, and Tolstoy Street in Lviv was renamed after the Archbishop Liubomyr Huzar in mid-2022.
“Clean energy transitions” by rich countries of the global north are producing “a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South”, states a manifesto published last week by an alliance of social and environmental organisations.
“This decarbonisation of the rich, which is market-based and export-oriented, depends on a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South, which affects the lives of millions of women, men and children, not to mention non-human life”, the Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition says.
Women, especially from agrarian societies, are among the most impacted. In this way, “the Global South has once again become a zone of sacrifice, a basket of purportedly inexhaustible resources for the countries of the North.”
As the rich countries secure supply chains for these “clean” transitions, the web of debt and trade agreements in which countries outside the rich world are caught is tightened.
I hope that social movements and the labour movement in the rich countries will not only sign the manifesto (which you can do here), but also – probably more to the point – think about and discuss what it means for us.
Igor Paskar is the first to be tried [in Russia] for anti-war arson as a “terrorist”.
On June 14, 2022, Igor painted his face in the colours of the Ukrainian flag and threw a Molotov cocktail at the FSB [federal security service] headquarters in Krasnodar.
The FSB investigator charged him with committing a “terrorist act” (Part 1, Article 205 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
Paskar is also accused of setting fire to a banner with the letter Z and the inscription “We don’t leave our men behind”, which is qualified as “vandalism” (part 2 of article 214 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
“It was a public action. If I had disappeared, it would have lost all meaning”, says Paskar, answering the question of why he did not try to escape.
I am not a terrorist warrior who hides. I wanted to express my opinion, it was a cry. I am a simple person, a simple hard worker, like those who live in Ukraine, in the war zone. I sacrificed myself to the regime, but I am not a terrorist. What kind of a terrorist? That’s ridiculous.
Igor faces up to 15 years in prison on the charges.
First, Igor Paskar was sent to the FSB-controlled pre-trial detention centre-5 in Krasnodar — an analogue of the Moscow “Lefortovo”. For all the time Igor was there, not a single letter [of those sent] was handed to him.
On October 26, Igor was transferred to SIZO-1 [detention centre] in Krasnodar, where letters were given to him. And then he was transferred to Rostov-on-Don, where the trial of his case began.