It is partly true that the new IPCC Report on Climate Change is “scientific,” but we should be honest about the limitations of this. It is also an ideological document, covering up key causes and insulating powerful systems from critical scrutiny. In the crucial, most widely read version of the Report, the 41-page “Summary for Policymakers,” the word “human” appears 79 times; by contrast, the word “capitalism” occurs 0 times, the word “colonialism” occurs 0 times, the word “corporation” occurs 0 times, the word “business” occurs 0 times, the word “money” occurs 0 times, and the expression “fossil fuel” (or even just “fuel”) occurs 0 times.
In this case, as in so many others, the most ideological, political aspects of a text appear in the form of silences and omissions.
In the 150-page “Technical Summary,” the word “human” occurs 133 times, and all the other terms occur 0 times.
In the massive, nearly-4,000-page Full Report, which is fully read by hardly anyone, the word “human” occurs on 751 pages; the phrase “fossil fuel” occurs on 121 pages, but the word “capitalism” occurs only once, in a bibliographic entry; the word “colonialism” never occurs, the word “corporation” occurs on 12 pages, the word “money” never occurs, and the word “business” occurs on 11 pages, almost all of which are as part of the phrase “business as usual.”
We should welcome the Report, as an important source of scientific insight; but we should also view it critically, as an ideological device that in crucial ways obscures the systemic roots of climate change and therefore also obscures the need for a fierce struggle of working-class movements, including the crucial leadership of Indigenous peoples, against capitalism and the states that protect it.