Author and activist tackles capitalism and climate in TRU lecture

Naomi Klein presents in the Grand Hall on Feb. 7. (K. Keshiri/Submitted)

Activist and award-winning author Naomi Klein will be challenging capitalism in the face of global climate change at TRU on Feb. 7 as part of TRUSU’s Common Voices lecture series.

Her lecture, titled This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, is named after the Canadian writer’s 2014 book which investigates how current political and economic systems inhibit response to climate change. It argues that drastic economic changes must be made to reduce emissions to sustainable levels.

In her book, Klein presents the case that the free market is unable to respond sufficiently to climate change, saying that the only times that emissions have been reduced were during economic downturns.

Klein asserts that climate change can be managed by subduing the free market, suggesting governments take back ownership of utility services, invest in public transit, reject “harmful” free trade deals and respect the land rights of Indigenous peoples.

The book also touches on localized economies, especially in food production, referring to backyard gardens being promoted as a resource-saving measure during the Second World War. Klein further argues that society has made sacrifices to uphold the economic system, such as with raising student debt and lowering pensions, so therefore society should be able to make lifestyle changes to preserve the planet.

The book also talks about how the United Nations is failing to hold governments accountable to agreements made about climate change and argues that natural resources are being abused on land unceded from Indigenous Peoples, using British Columbia as an example.

The key, according to Klein, is to get people to realize how much more progressive the world needs to be in cutting back emissions.

“If enough of us stop looking away and decide that climate change is worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one,” writes Klein, referring to the large investment the United States made in rebuilding Western Europe after the war.

Klein has written for both The New York Times and The Guardian and has authored several other books, including international bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. She is also a board member of 350.org, a climate advocacy group that is currently campaigning against U.S. President Donald Trump’s climate agenda as well as to freeze all new fossil fuel projects.

Klein will be presenting in the Grand Hall at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. Seating is limited. Those interested can collect tickets at the service desk in the student union building.