During the BRICS summit open plenary session in Johannesburg, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva echoed the sentiment of “apartheid in conservation” expressed by John Mbaria and Mordecai Ogada in their book The Big Conservation Lie.
This by another name is called green colonialism, eco-colonialism, environmental colonialism or climate colonialism.
And it is the practice of one country making or taking decisions and actions in another under the guise of benefiting the environment and using influence to make policies and development strategies or technology that benefit one country or group of people by exploiting the resources of another.
This is mainly done by wealthier countries using their strength and influence to persuade less developed countries to utilise their resources in an ecologically sustainable manner.
It happens when country A (developed), exercises dominance or imposes such environmental policies or acts on country B (developing), in order to benefit country A in the long term at the price of country B’s natural resources.
This is problematic since country B is not at the same level as country A in terms of needing to implement environmental protection measures.
It is from the above illustration, that the Global North has had some success in lowering its carbon emissions. However, this accomplishment comes with a significant asterisk because such reductions were primarily made possible by the Global South. And this has not been a collaborative effort, but rather green colonialism.
The green energy industry reinforces the idea that we can sustainably maintain our addiction to high-energy lifestyles by promising to build a sustainable wonderland with electric cars and bullet trains powered by an endless supply of renewable energy from the Global South; paid for with development aid repackaged as climate-related transfers-keeping the Global South forever dependent.
Therefore, if we are to permit green ways of living, we must consider what “justice” truly means, who it currently serves, and a “just transition” rather than repeating the “green” clichés.
It is past time to acknowledge the renewable dystopia that is emerging and listen and work with indigenous groups that have been maintaining and safeguarding our landscapes for millennia.
And with that, we will be actively supporting multi-front anti-colonial struggles.