- Intro – link b/w climate injustice and colonial past.
- Introduce the concept of climate colonialism.
- Explain the deepening colonial climate injustice & the need for reparations.
- Conclusion, briefly pointing to the way forward.
It is argued that a connection between colonialism, capitalism and climate change is directly historical – the developments of the last 50 decades linked much of the world in a system of politics & economics. This system was led by the industrial revolution, which inter-alia was an energy revolution too. These energy changes were the beginning of anthropogenic global warming. This revolution had created a power difference in terms of energy, which in turn determined who will be most vulnerable to climate impacts and who will remain protected. Thus history has a practical connection towards ensuring a future of climate justice.
The term ‘climate colonialism’ embraces both climate impacts as well as the nature of policies that countries, corporations and other actors pursue to respond to climate change. Importantly, these can result in a world where colonial power hierarchies are deepened.
There is a real argument for climate reparations now, in the context of global north’s governments refusal to climate reparations. This has accentuated social conditions in other countries to deteriorate under climate impacts, leading to increase in climate-induced disasters & displacements. This then created a kind of self-justifying reality around xenophobia and border violence in the global north. Also, in the recent pandemic instance that required equitable vaccine distribution across the world for immunization, the urge to protect only the elite interests of the global north by vaccine monopolization, is inhumane.
The developed countries often argue that large developing economies like India and China are also responsible for emissions now, shedding off their historical onus. However, this argument shows a need for historical and political analysis that goes beyond just tracking C-emissions. If we examine emissions per capita on a cumulative historical basis, then clearly India & China are not the problems. Till date, US occupies the top position in terms of CO2 emissions per capita. This raises a question on the particular development paths pursued by these powerful countries that have periled the climate scenario for future generations. These countries are also complacent about investing in the climate resilient technologies and in the global south.
Therefore, what is more pertinent is that instead of pointing fingers, a collaborative approach built on ensuring climate reparations in the form of fiscal, technical and other assistance must be initiated by developed countries to enable emerging economies like India, China, Brazil and South Africa to grow along a renewable energy trajectory. There are several examples of climate injustice like heat waves in S. Asia, cyclones in Mozambique, etc. This reflects the paradox that countries that have in no serious way contributed to climate crisis, are actually bearing the brunt of its effects. Here lies a deep sense of unfairness.
To correct this climate justice is needed which means expanding self-determination of how governments & communities can relate to their future. This will have to be achieved in an era of accumulated ecological mistakes of the past, posing huge challenges. Thus, effective climate justice will entail giving people genuine democratic inputs, devising community-developed adaptation efforts, ensuring community-designed way of energy provision & distribution and securing food sovereignty & resilience.