Living like monks won't "save the planet"
One of the charms of the Internet reading of late last week was Harrison Stetler's article in Jacobin, titled "Changing Our Individual Behavior Isn’t Going to Save the Planet." Now, I do not keep track of French politics. But if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that if Macron is trying to bully the French, each individually, into reducing their "carbon footprtints" to "save the planet," it's going to be happening here soon. So also, for instance, you were able to read late last month of Pete Buttigieg's proposal for a "mileage tax" -- you know, so the further you live from the (affordable) grocery store, the less affordable your residence will be. (This last part will matter in a world where a lot of people can't afford to pay rent.)
The fact that the French proposals don't go very far is not necessarily a big problem for the elites at this moment. Success isn't their purpose. As Stetler points out:
The (proposed climate and resilience) law is remarkable for the breadth and range of its inadequacy. Thanks to the Yellow Vest revolt, it is now a commonplace that averting climate disaster requires a “revolution” in our way of life and that no sphere of human activity can go unchanged. With guidelines and incentives touching on everything from domestic air travel to building renovations and vegetarian meals, this law hints at the range of activities that need to be reorganized, all while seeking to avert and preempt any proactive mobilization of the state.
In other words, the proposed French law aims to cast the government in the role of the "good guys" in the social drama of continuing ineffective action on climate change, while letting said same government off the hook for failing to commit to any sort of revolution that would make a difference, and while letting the corporations off the hook for doing what comes naturally to their bourgeois leadership -- i.e. the pursuit of profits under capitalism. Stetler points out at the very beginning of the piece that the Yellow Vest movement compelled Macron to withdraw proposed increases in the French gas tax, and so the proposed "climate and resilience" law is apparently his response.
We can, moreover, generalize further, past the French example, to predict that what we shall see in the future will be attempts to cast the Almighty Individual Consumer as the savior of the climate and, conversely, as the culprit for why climate change mitigation "efforts" didn't work. Leading the charge will be the people who continually tell us: "we can't wait for a revolution to happen because there isn't much time, so for now we will have to pursue green capitalism, emissions reduction targets, the Paris Agreement, and so on." Revolutions, however, do not happen because people wait for them. Revolutions happen because, as a first and necessary step, people advocate them, and prepare them through what Antonio Gramsci called the "war of position."
One aspect of this "war of position," moreover, will have to be that we should unceasingly oppose class warfare disguised as environmental legislation. This opposition should include an opposition to campaigns designed to persuade Americans who are generally broke or indebted that they should live even more poorly than they currently do because climate change or something.
By the same token we should resist all efforts to persuade us to endorse measures that will 1) be ineffective in mitigating climate change and 2) position us on the wrong side of the class divide, "because climate change is URGENT." There is no problem too urgent for us to note that a wrong, counterproductive "solution" is in fact wrong and counterproductive.