Climate Colonialism

‘In its capacity to colonise the deepest recesses of the human mind, climate must surely constitute one of the world’s most successful imperial projects’ – Livingstone 2015
This event discusses the historical influence of colonialism in causing climate change and its disproportionate effect on black and brown people around the world. Colonialism is deeply related to climate from its very onset; colonialists have used climatic variability around the world to justify their colonial practices, conceptualising people living in warmer climates as ‘exotic’ and ‘other’. In a European imperial context, climatically-determined differences between human ‘races’ and cultures were central to Western European self-conceptions of an inherent superiority over peoples.
Another aspect that is seldom mentioned, is the neocolonial nature of many false climate solutions. Under the veil of ‘development projects’ and ‘carbon offsetting’, western countries and companies can continue to pollute as normal, which disproportionately affects BIPOC folk in both developed and developing countries. Further, many of these solutions involve displacement of indigenous populations from their lands leading to widespread human and land rights abuses.
Some of the questions we will discuss are:
How is the historical process of colonialism intrinsically linked to climate change? How were the ideologies of climate determinism used to justify colonial expansion by western powers? How do some climate solutions perpetuate colonialism and imperialism? In what ways have the colonial practices that caused global warming changed over time and what form do they take today?
To discuss these questions, it is our pleasure to welcome two well distinguished experts:
Anuradha Mittal is the founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute. Mittal is an internationally renowned expert on development, human rights, and agriculture issues. Recipient of several awards, Anuradha Mittal was named the Most Valuable Thinker by the Nation magazine.
Mittal has authored and edited numerous books and reports. Her articles have been published in newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Houston Chronicle, and the Nation. Anuradha has addressed the US Congress, the United Nations, given several hundred keynote addresses and has been interviewed on CNN, BBC World, CBC, ABC, Al Jazeera, National Public Radio and Voice of America.
Nnimmo Bassey is an architect, environmental activist, author and poet, who chaired Friends of the Earth International from 2008 through 2012 and was Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action for two decades. He was one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment in 2009. In 2010, Nnimmo Bassey was named a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2012 he was awarded the Rafto Prize. He serves on the Advisory Board and is Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an environmental think tank and advocacy organisation.
In 2014 he received Nigeria’s national honour as Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) in recognition of his environmental activism. Bassey is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects. His books include We Thought it Was Oil, But It was Blood –Poetry (Kraft Books, 2002), and To Cook a Continent – Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa and Oil Politics
As an introduction to the topics in this event, we’d encourage you to watch these short clips from our speakers:
The event will be livestreamed onto our YouTube Channel. We will also post the direct link at 6pm on the event Facebook page.