Are we all environmentalists now?

Rebels stand in front of a banner saying Decarbonise, Decolonise, Decomodify

After decades of insufficient action on climate change, there has recently been a number of important advances in international climate politics. Just this week, the leaders of the richest industrialised nations have agreed to end the financing of coal extraction abroad. Also, a Dutch court has ruled that Shell must drastically cut its carbon emissions and, similarly, investors have forced Exxon and Chevron to adopt decarbonisation strategies.

A typical framing of a ‘progress on climate change’ story involves some trite statement from business paying lip service to the sustainability agenda – focussing on investment in modern technology, future-proofing, etc. All this was followed up by a quote from a big environmental NGO, where the spokesperson declares they ‘support progress’ but that.. ‘we need to do more’.

There are a great many initiatives and markers of progress, but the question is: do they add up to enough? And what might be getting missed out? With much finally starting to move in the right direction, are we at risk of not being able to see the wood for the trees, of not knowing what ‘enough’ would be, of not being specific enough in our demands, or even not knowing if we should be making demands? Are policy makers only changing what they must but leaving many planks of this unsustainable and unjust system in place? Along the way, is the green agenda at risk of being captured to create new atrocities and to reinvigorate and legitimise Capitalism, the State, and Empire?

It’s easy to convince people that not investing in fossil fuels is probably a good thing, whilst it might be a bit of a stretch, at this stage, to get them going along with the total abolition of industrial capitalism, if indeed that’s your thing.

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