The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)‘s Sixth and the most recent report on the impact of global warming on our planet, published earlier this month, reiterates many of its predecessors’ warnings: chiefly that climate change threatens global disasterWe cannot prevent it if we don’t take action. But it does have one key difference. For the first time in the institution’s history, the IPCC has included the term “colonialism” in its report’s summary.
According to the report, colonialism is a form of colonialism. ExacerbatedClimate change and its effects. Particularly, colonialism has played a significant role in increasing the severity of climate change. vulnerabilityspecific people and places to the impacts of climate change.
Since 1990, the IPCC produces scientific reports about climate change. Despite its 30 years of analysis, the IPCC has not yet discussed the links between climate change and colonialism.
The addition of one new term to the IPCC’s lexicon might not seem significant. But ColonialismIt is a complex word. Referring to the practice of acquiring full or partial control over another group’s territory, it can include the occupation of that land by settlers as well as the economic exploitation of land to benefit the colonising group.
In Australia, where I come from, British colonists invaded Aboriginal people’s land in the late 18th century and have since worked to establish a permanent settlement there. This was not a peaceful process. It involved violent acts, including dispossession widespread massacresThe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, Forcible removalof those people who have fled their land, and the Forcible separationChildren from their families.
It is not enough to connect climate change with acts of colonisation. Researchers Have been shown, for example, that the scale of bushfires in Australia today – including the catastrophic Fires in 2019-20 – is not being exacerbated by climate change alone. It’s also amplified by the colonial displacementThe expulsion of Indigenous people from their lands, and the disruption of their lives Land management practicesThat controlled burning can be used skillfully to help landscapes flourish.
This is why it’s significant that the term colonialism is not only included within the full, more technical part of the latest report. It’s also included within the concise “Summary for policymakers”, the most widely cited and read part of the IPCC’s reports.
The IPCC has connected climate change and colonialism in this summary. It is sending a message that governments and policymakers around the world must acknowledge the legacy of colonialism when addressing climate change. It’s a message that also acknowledges how the Climate justice movementhas long fought for recognition of the inequal climate change effects on different groups of people.
The IPCC has finally decided to acknowledge this link for a variety of reasons. The people most impacted by colonisation have campaigned for – and gained greater access to – the IPCC’s process of creating reports. The previous reports were critiquedFor those who lack authors from Indigenous groups and non Western nations.
Colonialism was a disaster. The facts prove it
According to the latest report, however, approximately 44% of authors are from “developing countries and countries with economies in transition”, up from 37% in the previous report. Authors also hail from more diverse disciplinary Backgrounds, including anthropology and history as well as science, economics, and philosophy.
Since the IPCC released its fifth report in 2014 it has been steadily growing in literature that shows the connection between colonialism and climate change. For example, the Potawatomi philosopher is a climate justice scholar. Kyle WhyteFor his research on direct connections between environmental damage and dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their land, he is cited as a source in the latest report.
Yet for all the significance of the IPCC’s new acknowledgement, it is only one part of the latest report that develops this connection. Three sections of the IPCC report are produced by different parties working groups. The first section examines climate change’s physical science; the second discusses its impacts; and the third discusses potential ways to mitigate these effects. Only the second section deals with colonialism.
As a historian of climate knowledge, I’d argue that an analysis of colonialism should also be included in the First section covering climate science.
ResearchIt is becoming more apparent that climate science is rooted both in imperialism, colonialism, and is being used to justify it. Deborah R. Coen is a historian Has shownThe origins of key elements of climate change science today can be traced back to the Imperial ambitionsThe 19th Century Habsburg Empire. For example, it was Habsburg imperialist politics that helped scientists understand the relationship between local storm development and atmospheric circulation.
What’s more, much of the historic meteorological data that contemporary climate scientists rely on was produced by colonising powers. Take the data Scientists extractedThese logbooks were found on mid-19th-century English ships. This information was part of an Make an effortto improve the connection between territories colonized by British Empire and speed up the exploitation of other people’s land and water.
The IPCC’s approach to these connections between colonialism and climate change remains to be determined. I do hope it will soon recognize colonialism in all its working groups. It is clear that the connections between climate change, colonialism and colonialism are numerous and require us to confront a number of uncomfortable legacies.