Climate colonialism and the EU Green Treaty Climate change

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Since the beginning of the year, the Amazon rainforest, our largest rainforest full of ecosystems essential to global climate regulation networks, has cleared and burned 430,000 acres (174,000 hectares) to supply the forest industry and clear land for livestock. Between August 2019 and July 2020, another 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) were destroyed. Much of the wood and meat produced in Brazil from this deforestation ends up in the northern markets of the world.

Deforestation linked to the palm oil industry also continues in Southeast Asia. Between 2018 and 2020, nearly 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of rainforest were cleared in just three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, causing indigenous communities to lose their land. Demand for palm oil from the world’s best food brands remains high, despite its commitments to reduce its use.

Meanwhile, the push towards greener energy sources, especially in the global north, is driving demand for metals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium. Workers in mining communities working to extract these metals face dangerous and degrading working conditions.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the use of child labor in cobalt mines is widespread, endangering the lives of children, harming their health and depriving them of education. In Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, lithium mining uses large amounts of water, accelerating desertification and polluting groundwater and rivers, putting the health of local communities at risk.

According to data collected by the London-based NGO Business and Human Rights Resource Center, there have been 304 allegations of human rights violations by 115 companies exploiting these minerals.

Although the end of colonialism was declared decades ago, its last effects on the form of these extractive industries are clear. The system of indigenous land grabbing, resource extraction, labor exploitation and wealth transfer established by European colonialists continues to operate and dispossess people in the global south.

It is in the context of this neocolonial reality that the European Union announced its green agreement at the end of 2019.

Based on an apolitical narrative that says humans have already changed the Earth’s climate and degraded most of its ecosystems, so action needs to be taken, the Green Treaty completely ignores the fact that the global north was the main engine. of climate change and environmental degradation worldwide. the world.

European governments and businesses have not only damaged and destroyed the continent’s environment and exploited local marginalized communities, but have had the exact same behavior and, worse, on all other continents.

The natural world of Africa, Asia, and Latin America has been destroyed through the capitalist economic systems deployed by the global north that normalized, expanded, and strengthened hyperextraction through overproduction and excessive consumption.

The European Green Treaty does not describe how it will reconcile and repair the losses and damage that EU countries have caused to ecosystems and communities outside Europe. Nor does it recognize how this damage is forcing people in the global south to migrate to European shores, where they experience setbacks, which offer less of a solution.

The European Green Treaty also ignores the environmental impact of Europe’s push for renewable energy and electric mobility in other parts of the world, where resources will have to be extracted for this economic change. Nor does it pay attention to how climate change and environmental degradation have disproportionately affected their own marginalized communities and the poor and destitute of the global south.

In other words, in the quest to make the EU the first region with a neutral climate in the world by 2050, Brussels is stepping back in its old ways and deploying what we call climate colonialism.

The EU’s apolitical narrative on climate change – ignoring the impact of colonialism and capitalism and heavily influenced by the corporations that benefit from it – could lead to climate action that not only has no impact, but, even worse, it could be unsustainable and detrimental to the marginalized. communities on the continent and the global south.

It is based on technological solutions and silver bullet ideas, promising to lead a “green and sustainable” economy with electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and other exciting renewable innovations.

But the question is, for whom will it be sustainable?

In order not to fall into climate colonialism, the European Green Treaty needs a clear plan to eradicate harmful mining models, recognize its historical responsibility in the climate crisis, and account for the damage that EU companies are causing to the global South.

Working within the same system that causes injustice will only reproduce injustice. From Equinox we have presented a number of important recommendations that could help move the Green Deal away from its capitalist and colonial base and towards new holistic and intersectional approaches that would place social and racial justice at the center.

These recommendations include a clear commitment to racial justice, integrated policies linking the EU’s anti-racism action plan to the Green Treaty, institutional reform and a new relationship with civil society.

Only by acknowledging that it perpetuates colonial capitalism and is committed to ending this approach can the EU Green Treaty be truly effective in tackling climate change. For too long, European governments and businesses have wreaked havoc around the world. It is time for justice, accountability and a complete overhaul of economic systems. Our collective survival depends on it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.





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