If Bangladesh sinks – when Bangladesh sinks – it won’t be an abstract environmental loss, but the last breath of a people that started dying the minute the British landed on Indian soil.
I believe an aversion to feeling guilty has no place in a meaningful global climate movement. Because without any recognition of fault and how past injury shapes current power, there is little basis for moving towards either justice or healing.
As Pakistan mourns the destruction and devastation caused by the recent extreme climatic events, the industrialized and post-industrialized countries of the global north responsible for these catastrophes need to be held accountable.
As reparationist Esther Stanford-Xosei argues, reparations are not simply a matter of financial compensation, but must include bigger, more radical changes that help us build “new economic systems that don’t produce and reproduce inequality”.
Outside the confines of the current multilateral system, a plurality of knowledge is thriving. It is knowledge that will swell and flow through all the lands and rivers it can reach until it can no longer be ignored.
Barbados currently has one of the most impressive emission reduction targets, known in UN jargon as NDCs (nationally determined contributions). By 2030, it is seeking to be the first 100% green and fossil-free island state in the world – even though it is one of the countries least responsible for the climate crisis.
In order for the global climate justice movement to be successful, leadership must come from those who have been most acutely affected by climate change.