Naomi Klein on #BlackLivesMatter and Climate Change


“Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Transform the Climate Debate”

The grossly unequal distribution of climate impacts is not some little-understood consequence of the failure to control carbon emissions. It is the result of a series of policy decisions the governments of wealthy countries have made—and continue to make—with full knowledge of the facts and in the face of strenuous objections.

I vividly remember the moment when the racism barely under the surface of international climate talks burst onto the world stage. It was exactly five years ago this week, on the second day of the now-infamous United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen. Up until that point, the conference had been a stultifying affair, with the fates of nations discussed in the bloodless jargon of climate “adaptation and mitigation.” All of that changed when a document was leaked showing that governments were on the verge of setting a target that would cap the global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, more than double the amount of warming experienced so far). This was defined as a strategy for averting “dangerous” levels of warming.

But the temperature target—pushed by wealthy nations in Europe and North America—would likely not be enough to save some low-lying small island states from annihilation. And in Africa, where drought linked to climate change was at that time menacing many lives in the eastern part of the continent, the target would translate into a full-scale humanitarian disaster. Clearly the definition of “dangerous” climate change had more than a little to do with the wildly unequal ways in which human lives are counted.

But African delegates weren’t standing for it. When the text was leaked, the dull UN bureaucracy suddenly fell away and the sterile hallways of the conference centre came alive with shouts of, “We Will Not Die Quietly” and “2 Degrees is Suicide.” The paltry sums rich countries had pledged for climate financing were angrily dismissed as “not enough to buy us coffins.” Black lives matter, these delegates were saying—even if this corrupted forum was behaving as if that was far from the case.

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4 Responses to Naomi Klein on #BlackLivesMatter and Climate Change

  1. dmf says:

    not sure why any of this is expected to register with/on the powers (who are clearly beyond shaming) that be but good to see people going down fighting

    • edmundberger says:

      Yeah, even if individuals in the halls of the UN explode with anger and outrage I don’t see much hope for transformation coming from with these bureaucratic structures that continue to be removed from everyday realities. It does send a message to those outside, illustrating the breakdown of politics on both a national and transnational level (as if we needed more proof as towards whom neoliberal governmentality is oriented!) where these matters on concerned. Information, of course, isn’t going to congeal into any sort of revelation pointing towards a transvaluation of values on a mass scale but it can give a voice to those normally stifled, drowned out in the noise of big data. If that can help generate any existential mutations, even if only a micropolitical level, then that is worthwhile. We need dangerous thinking for dangerous times…

      • dmf says:

        worth trying maybe we can even extend this to “brown” lives:
        “Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Marosi spent 18 months traveling across nine Mexican states, where he met with workers at the giant mega-farms exporting much of the produce sold in the U.S. He joins us to discuss his investigation, which chronicles vulnerable farmworkers living under harsh conditions.”

  2. landzek says:

    Dtill trying to figure out how to follow..

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