Neo-Liberalism And Climate Justice: Evidence Lies In The Eye Of The Beholder

Neo-Liberalism And Climate Justice: Evidence Lies In The Eye Of The Beholder
Awami Jamhoori Party (AJP) held a protest on October 3, 2022 to demand rehabilitation of flood-affected areas. The protestors blamed the government and the ruling class for drowning cities and houses of poor people to fill their own coffers.

Prime Minister Shehbaz offered the same rhetoric on ‘climate injustice’ at the UN General Assembly last month, implying that the flood calamity some 33 million Pakistanis are facing is not trigged by their actions but that of the developed nations.

Pakistan’s Global Share in CO2 emissions is 0.50 percent but is ranked 18th on Global Climate Risk Index. The prime minister urged the international community to undo the climate injustice, and requested financing worth billions of dollars to rehabilitate flood-affected areas.

Former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on said on October 17, 2022, that chances of climate compensation that Pakistan is expecting to get from polluter countries is minimum, because “Pakistan isn’t a well-liked country, to put it diplomatically”.

The concept of climate justice underpins justice as a social advantage. Whereas, the concept of injustice is related to gaining advantage for oneself by seizing what belongs to another.  Justice is a socially constructed belief, discourse and expression of configuration of power intended to regulate ordering within relations. The word justice has no universal meaning and is embedded in semantic of language.

The concept of climate justice refers to how adverse climate changes affect different people. Climate injustice cannot be fixed with extra finances or science.

In developing countries like Pakistan, climate disaster is rooted in the ideologies of neoliberal capitalism. People are unaware how their relationship with local environment is eroding. Linkage between urbanization, climate change and global commodification of land, water, and all that can be commercialized, expand the glaring inequalities and wear away human sustainability.

This reminds me of an animated movie Rango, which is about a chameleon that falls off from his car and lands in a dirty city where he is made a sheriff. He was given the task of bringing water to town. In the process, he finds water shortage is artificially induced by water privatization, and that the idea of individual profit is essential to capitalist economic system.
The concept of climate justice refers to how adverse climate changes affect different people. Climate injustice cannot be fixed with extra finances or science.

Free-market capitalism is driven by consumption and the accumulation of material and monetary wealth. Consumers are so accustomed to owning and commodifying that they have lost track of their relations with the no-human world.

Jared Diamond’s book Collapse presents environmental unsustainability as a problem because of which past civilizations collapsed. Jared described how environmental problem contributed to societal collapses. Abusing environment, lack of recognition of risk arising from environmental problems and values affect the society’s survival.

Green rhetoric is intended to muster support for the neo-liberal economy. Companies are depleting resources on the pretext of safe and greener use of technology, causing environmental destruction in the name of profit and efficiency.

People forget that the planet was greener before neoliberalism became the dominant force of economics. Society recognized problems based on its institutions and values. Social construct of climate and human beings’ influence on nature is a combination of perceived climate changes, cultural values in public sphere and politics, as explained in The New Century of the Metropolis by Tom Angotti.

Universal discourse about human impact on nature is conflicting, because it contradicts with liberal consumer lifestyles. The solution to capitalism is not more capitalism. Capitalist powers from whom climate impacted countries expect justice are lost in a political cul-de-sac.

The only remedy offered is to ease out the partial pain and make the best of capitalism while the illness remains chronic.

In a press release dated December 9, 2020, from the Climate Accountability Institute states that 20 largest investor-owned and state-owned fossil fuel companies produced carbon fuels that emitted 35 percent of the global total CO2 release. Free-market solutions promoting green technology are the panacea offered by the 21st century planners and neo-liberal capitalists.  Minister of State for Climate of the United Kingdom has recently pleaded to issue 100 licenses for drilling because it is greener and good. The minister said, drilling is good for jobs and good for the economy, and it is also good for the environment.

We are at the junction of critical climate change. Pandemics and calamities exacerbate inequalities. The brunt of climate change faced by marginalized group of people is unmatchable. International insensitivity is a profound injustice, an echo of historical hypocrisy and cynical realpolitik. A livable planet for future generations is at risk and anger can engender some greater social movements. Fossil-fuelled economy and infrastructure are doomed to wreak catastrophic damage to climate.

The rhetoric of climate resilience and sustainability lacks balance between natural and human systems. Breaching or failing to take human centered remedial action by those nations most responsible for the problem will be a violation of human rights of marginalized people. Fulfilling the monetary needs of affected people is not climate justice. Pain, hunger and deprivation due to uncalled for climatic event demands equity from all contributors of inequalities.