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Climate Politics and Race in the Pacific Northwest

Rachel Slocum ()
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Rachel Slocum: Independent Scholar, Portland, OR, USA

Social Sciences, 2018, vol. 7, issue 10, 1-25

Abstract: The collective politics of climate justice makes the important claim that lowering emissions is not enough; society must also undertake radical transformation to address both the climate and inequality crises. Owing to its roots in the environmental justice movement, addressing systemic racism is central to climate justice praxis in the United States, which is a necessary intervention in typically technocratic climate politics. What emerges from US climate justice is a moral appeal to ‘relationship’ as politics, the procedural demand that communities of color (the ‘frontline’) lead the movement, and a distributive claim on carbon pricing revenue. However, this praxis precludes a critique of racial capitalism, the process that relies on structural racism to enhance accumulation, alienating, exploiting, and immiserating black, brown, and white, while carrying out ecocide. The lack of an analysis of how class and race produce the crises climate justice confronts prevents the movement from demanding that global north fossil fuel abolition occur in tandem with the reassertion of the public over the private and de-growth. Drawing on research conducted primarily in Oregon and Washington, I argue that race works to both create and limit the transformative possibilities of climate politics.

Keywords: climate justice movement; carbon pricing; racial capitalism; de-growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A B N P Y80 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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