Cornerhouse readings on climate change

I received this list of readings from a UK solidarity group which produces excellent work on a wide range of issues and struggles. They touch on many of the complex issues which need to be tackled and/or considered in the complex transition to a societal, political and industrial metabolism that is sustainable, i.e. the essence of what some of us see as “degrowth”.



2nd December 2015

As thousands of people gather in Paris for the 21st annual UN conference on climate change, The Corner House is taking the opportunity to let you know about some recent postings on its website, many of which are directly climate-related — but not all.

We hope you find them interesting and thought-provoking. Comments and feedback welcome as ever.

with very best wishes

The Corner House team

1) Neoliberalism’s Climate

Neoliberalism has changed the ways we look at climate: it is now defined in units that can be bought or rented, while climate change is portrayed as something non-human to which a monolithic ‘society’ must ‘adapt’. These innovations perpetuate and deepen long-standing exploitative and neo-colonialist politics. Challenging them requires deepened dialogue with indigenous peoples, peasants and workers.

2) The Injustices inside Climate Science

People often talk about the unjust distribution of the effects of climate change and analyse injustices committed in the name of climate change ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’. But there are also injustices inherent in mainstream climate science itself that activists need to take account of.

3) Energy as Abstract Social Nature: Climate Change as Labour Issue

Climate change is an energy issue, and energy issues are labour issues. Effective radical action on climate change requires political analysis of the 19th-century conception of energy as summarised in the science of thermodynamics.

4) Environmental Services: A New Type of Colonial Nature

The new  environmental services economy perpetuates the destructive logic of capital.

5) ‘Annex Zero’: A Proposal for the 2015 Paris Climate Summit

During 20 years of UN climate negotiations, countries classified according to the UN climate convention as Annex I and II have prevented specific and binding actions to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, the root of global warming. The international Oilwatch network is proposing a new Annex — Annex Zero — of the Indigenous Peoples and nations, provinces, states, sub-national regions and localities that actually are doing something to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and is collecting commitments from like-minded people who would like to be part of Annex Zero.

6) Paths Beyond Paris: Movements, Action and Solidarity towards Climate Justice

The main focus of the Paris climate negotiations, as of previous climate summits, is to protect and advance the interests of large corporations and banks. This booklet aims at helping to build stronger, more diverse and radical movements that can engage successfully against the counterproductive ‘solutions’ advocated at such conferences.

7) Mausam: Talking Climate in Public Space

Mausam is a magazine produced by India Climate Justice, a collective that aims to connect climate issues to local struggles over ‘natural resources’, fossil fuel extraction, and rights to land, livelihood and food. Issue Five has a multi-pronged critique of the actions India proposes to undertake to address climate change. Its plan is just one of many ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ submitted by participant countries at the Paris climate summit.

8) An Alternative to ‘Alternatives’

The peremptory demand ‘What’s your alternative?’ often needs to be met with counter-questions such as ‘Alternative for whom?’ and ‘Alternative to what?’ In many circumstances, the question ‘Whose side are you on?’ is more constructive.

9) Translation as Class Struggle

At the core of capitalist labour lies interpretation. Yet interpretation is seldom understood as a site of political contestation or class struggle. What are the contradictions involved in capital’s approach to interpretive labour? What are the implications for effective anti-capitalist activism?

10) What is Nature? Does Nature Have Rights?

Much environmental politics is concerned with what nature is and whether it has rights. This short piece attempts to frame the issues.

11) The Global Politics of the Nexus: Who and What is Missing?

Dominant concepts of food, energy and water security actually create insecurities, yet people’s responses to such insecurities are increasingly being categorised themselves as security threats.

12) Resource Politics and Social Justice: Scarcity, Politics, Securitisation and the Green Economy

Social justice is unlikely to be achieved by a few policy tweaks, not least because it is an evolving set of relationships that are never fixed but constantly being created and recreated. Where justice is concerned, building long-term relationships will always be more important than conducting short-term, in-and-out ‘campaigns’ driven by funding priorities or the need to present ‘policy’ to the next international conference. Here are some promises and pitfalls of alliance-building against the emerging ‘green economy’.

13)Concept and Metaphor in Political Mobilization

‘Making common cause’ — What does that really mean? Finding shared issues? Formulating a shared platform? Or also seeing your struggle as a metaphor for others?

14) Drowning a Valley, Destroying a Civilisation: Fact-Finding Mission Report on the Sardar Sarovar Dam, July 2015

In May 2014, the Indian government authorised the height of the controversial Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river in central-western India to be raised. Thousands of people, villages and towns will be submerged. This report calls for construction work to be halted immediately until all those people affected have been appropriately resettled.

15) Global Looting — A Snapshot

The gap between rich and poor nationally, regionally and internationally, has widened massively over the past 30 years as value has been progressively extracted from ordinary people.

16) Testimonies of Justice

An outline of The Corner House’s approach to solidarity work and research.


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