Laurie Parsons
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Carbon colonialism
Hidden emissions in the global periphery
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Carbon emissions are the greatest environmental threat facing the planet and have been subject to ever more stringent regulation in recent decades. The UK, EU, and even the notoriously lagging US have made significant strides in changing the direction of their emissions, apparently bending down curves that had strained ever upwards for centuries. Yet the majority of these gains are a fallacy: a product of richer nations diminishing their share of global industry and ‘outsourcing’ carbon-intensive processes to the global South. These outsourced emissions now account for a quarter of global CO2 emissions, a figure that highlights the scale of wealthy nations’ ability to move emissions off their environmental books. There is even a name for this practice. The ability to effectively outsource emissions from richer to poorer nations has been described as ‘carbon colonialism’. Wealthier countries, overwhelmingly responsible for climate change both historically and currently, have set the terms of carbon mitigation at the negotiating table. Naturally, these terms favour the biggest emitters, allowing larger economies to offshore production processes to smaller ones, whilst maintaining the economic fruits of that production. In an era of global climate breakdown, this is as avoidable as it is pointless, yet the persistence of this line of thinking speaks to a centuries-old mindset. In a globalised system of unequal power, it is sufficient simply to outsource environmental problems like carbon. Bring in what is necessary and out, across the border goes (or stays) the rest.

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Carbon Colonialism

How rich countries export climate breakdown


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