The Green Transition
Part 1: The Problem with Green Capitalism
It’s clear that we need to decarbonize our economy as quickly as possible in order to avoid the worst of climate change — but carbon isn’t the only problem we’re facing. As the world moves towards renewables and away from fossil fuels as an energy source, we can’t forget that the technology and minerals behind this green transition need to come from somewhere — and that somewhere is primarily countries in the Global South.
The supply chains which carry the lithium, copper, cobalt, and other minerals essential for renewable technology from the peripheries to the imperial cores — from places like Chile and Bolivia to places like the United States and Europe — are built upon a foundation of colonialism, imperialism, hyper-exploitation, and ecocide: all essential components of our current economic system — capitalism.
In part one of this two-part series on the green transition, we’re going to explore what happens when we simply paint capitalism green without addressing its fundamental global operating principles and processes. What is the dark side of the energy transition — particularly for the Global South and Indigenous communities?
In part two we dive deeper into some solutions, but in this episode, we start our journey in the Atacama desert of Chile and end all the way in the Arctic Circle, exploring the global extractive machine and the communities that exist on its frontiers.
You can check out Part 2 of this series here.
Max Ajl — Associated researcher with the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and the Environment, postdoctoral fellow with the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University, author of A People’s Green New Deal
Ana Julia Aneise — Youth climate activist with Youth for Climate
Sergio Chaparro — Colombian human rights activist and researcher.
Jason Hickel — Economic anthropologist and author of Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World
Beaska Niillas — Northern Sámi traditional handicrafter, hunter and gatherer, activist, Sámi school kindergarten teacher, politician, and the host of the SuperSápmi Podcast
Thea Riofrancos — Associate professor of political science at Providence College and co-author of A Planet To Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal
Matthias Schmelzer — Economic historian at the University of Vienna and co-author of The Future is Degrowth: A Guide to a World beyond Capitalism
Do Make Say Think
Sofia Jannok / Spanish Transcript
Many thanks to Bethan Mure for the cover art
Also, a special thanks to all of our guests in this episode as well as to Tatiana Anderson, Carolina Badillo, and Sara Fernandez for recording news headlines for us.
Support for this episode of Upstream was provided by The Guerrilla Foundation and the Resist Foundation