(Un)Just Transitions and Black Dispossession: The Disposability of Caribbean ‘Refugees’ and the Political Economy of Climate Justice
23 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2021 Last revised: 29 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 27, 2021
Caribbean populations face increased displacement, dispossession and debt burdens due to shocks related to climate change. As the major neighboring power that is the most significant historical contributor to global warming, the United States has persistently deflected from this responsibility. Instead, its climate plans are weaponized to target potential climate refugees who constitute a ‘national security threat’ and are faced with risks of premature death. These policies also aim to create green capitalist peripheries following racial capitalist logics. The paper contends that US climate interventions and policies increase the likelihood of Black dispossession within Caribbean societies. These policies commit to supporting so-called ‘left-behind’ white communities in need of a ‘just transition’, while Caribbean racialized subjects are not as equally deserving. To explain this, the paper examines major climate policies, in particular the recent Congressional Climate Action Plan of the US House of Representatives and President Biden’s climate proposals. It juxtaposes policy claims against political actions and racial capitalist historiography of the United States, especially its past treatment of climate refugees from the Caribbean. This analysis shows the persistent ways in which US climate policies advance organized abandonment and a neocolonial relationship predicated on an unjust system of racial capitalism.
Keywords: race, climate change, Caribbean, United States Climate policy, colonialism
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