Go Green Week 2020: end climate co2onialism
What are the links between colonialism and the climate emergency? How do universities play a role in continued colonisation of indigenous communities across the world? During this year's Go Green Week, students across the UK and Ireland will explore how the climate crisis is a result of centuries of colonialism, and will hold their institutions to account to start acting to end climate co2onialism on their campus.
Join them from the 10th to the 14th of February to demand radical change and stand in solidarity with those fighting colonisation across the globe.
we want our universities to stop fuelling climate co2onialism
Through investments, career fairs, honorary degrees, hostile immigration policies and purchase of goods made in sweatshops, our universities are complicit in the colonial system that is responsible for the climate crisis. We demand that our institutions acknowledge their role in this oppressive system, and start acting on the climate emergency using a decolonial approach.
Land and natural destruction
Fossil fuel companies extract oil, gas and coal across the world, often destroying the environments and livelihoods of indigenous people. This is one of the ways in which climate colonialism operates now: communities are exploited, their lives and traditions considered of less value, all for the profit of a few companies. Furthermore, often these companies have close links to the governments where they are based, which have been - and still are - engaged in colonial and imperialist efforts.
Mining for minerals to build batteries and solar panels, and land grabs to build wind and solar panels, also need to be considered in our transition to a future powered by renewable energy. We need to listen to indigenous knowledge, and take lead from communities impacted by climate colonialism to build a more sustainable and fair future for all.
The current state of climate crisis cannot be separated from histories of racism and global migration.
People of colour across the world have lower life expectancy, their land is threatened by sea levels rising and their environments are poisoned by industry. When they flee the consequences of climate caos to other countries, they are met with detentions, long and painful processes of documentation, and deportation.
Fighting for climate justice means fighting this systems of racism and colonialism.
Our economic model based on indefinite growth and unlimited consumption relies on the colonial exploitation of communities in the Global South. The maximisation of profits is made possible only by the labour of people in sweatshops, mines, prisons and fields, to the benefit of a few individual corporations often based in the Global North.
Factories and mines across the world pollute the environments in which they are situated. To protect privileged people from this contamination, the areas in which these factories are built is further from them, and closest to poorer communities which then suffer the consequences of this pollution.
Without money pouring into their accounts, fossil fuel companies would not be able to keep exploring and extracting coal, oil and gas. Across the world, banks are financing new fossil fuel endeavors, keeping alive an industry that needs to die now. In the UK, the main culprit is Barclays, that in the last three years has given $85bn to fossil fuel companies, including those involved in the extraction of oil in the Tar Sands.
Banks like Barclays are a key pillar in the UK's finance sector's role in climate colonialism. UK Export Finance, a government body, spent nearly £2bn last year on finding fossil fuel projects by British companies abroad. The City of London reaps in billions from its financial relationships, such as those with fossil fuel companies, as part of a wider extractive economic model, fuelling inequality at home and abroad.
take action on your campus
There are multiple ways in which you can start demanding your university to end climate colonialism.
Raise awareness about this issue
In preparation to the week, you could do some research on how linked your university is with colonialism. Has it given honorary degrees to colonisers? Does it have any of their statues on your campus, or is any building named after them? Or, alternatively, what links does your university still have with the fossil fuel industry? How welcome is it to students of colour and migrants? Get in touch if you need any help doing this research.
At the beginning of the week, you could host film screenings and discussions on this topic, or invite some of your lecturers and local activists to speak at a panel on climate colonialism. You can also reach out to liberation campaigns on your campus, or other divestment campaigns (such as BDS) and organise an event together. Why not start a reading group on this issue? You can then continue to meet once a month and make it a recurrent event for your group. Have a look at our action guide for more ideas, as well as movie/books suggestions.
On Thursday Feb. 13th, we are encouraging students to expose the links between their universities and climate colonialism. Make sure everyone hears what the university should be doing to stand on the right side of history:
- Host a protest/rally with different activist speakers
- Host a decolonisation tour - have a look at what Oxford students are doing at their university
- Protest your university's ties with the fossil fuel industry
Host a screening of the webinar: 'Decolonising the University'
Always on Thursday Feb. 13th, NUS and SOS-UK are co-hosting a webinar titled 'Decolonising the University'. The two co-chairs will be Fope Olaleye (NUS Black Students' Officer) and Claire Sosienski Smith (NUS Vice-President Higher Education).
The webinar will take place at 2PM. Have a look at our facebook event for more details on how to tune in and keep updated on the quest speakers!
You can organise a screening of the webinar on your campus, following the action you have taken. It is a good opportunity to reflect on why you are fighting for this cause! It can also be a good way to participate to the day of action for those who do not feel comfortable doing something more confrontational.
Reflect on the week and take care of each other
In our activist work, especially when exploring complex and painful histories, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves and the other members of our group. We encourage you to use the last day of the week - St. Valentine's Day - to engage in some radical care:
- Host a craftivism and zine-making session
- Have a nice trip to the beach, or a natural park near your university
- Get together for some chatting, having tea and cake
Get involved in one of our campaigns
Finally, this week can be the beginning of a long period of campaigning on your campus demanding social justice. Join one of our four campaigns: