Laurie Parsons
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Moving forwards, or dumping sideways? The myth of a sustainable future
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One of the central myths of our global economy is the idea of leading economies such as the UK having advanced beyond the dark and polluting days of industrial production. This is an idea promoted in both scholarship and culture, with post-industrial aesthetics celebrating the repurposing of former industrial spaces as sites of leisure and creativity. Yet, as this chapter shows, much of what appears to be progress is in reality a sideways movement, with the majority of industrial manufacturing sites in the global North remaining necessary, but having shifted to the global South. This hidden world of global production is the new frontier of the fight against climate breakdown. Not only does it undermine our ability to tackle global emissions, but smaller-scale impacts, too, are hidden amidst the complex logistics of our global production networks. In effect, climate change impacts, including the slow-burn disasters of droughts and floods, are outsourced by rich countries to producer countries in the global South. This introductory chapter will outline the disconnect between global narratives emphasising progress on sustainability and the dirty realities of contemporary production. As it explains, the global economy is not becoming greener, but better at hiding its impacts, channelling the worst effects of pollution and carbon emissions into complex international supply chains that are beyond the reach of regulators.

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Carbon Colonialism

How rich countries export climate breakdown

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