“Justice at the Necessary Scale”

An Interview with Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò in The Drift:

You use the concept of reparations in your work. Why is it the right way to think about climate change? 

This concept comes from the long history of activism for reparations. For centuries, people around the world who were enslaved, displaced, abused, exploited, and owned by the people and organizations at the top of the global social order have pushed for reparations. And many have put forth a vision of reparations that wasn’t just about transferring dollars from the wrongdoers to the wronged. It was also about a broader transformative vision for eliminating the kind of social system that would exploit people in the first place and building the kind of social system that was just and characterized by self-determination for everybody who lives in it. And that is the vision that we should have in the struggle for climate justice, because that is a vision of justice at the necessary scale.

In many ways, what is at least seemingly new about the climate crisis is that it cuts so cleanly and so extensively across the imaginary lines we’ve drawn on maps that supposedly divide us from each other. In a lot of ways, the ongoing central problems of climate politics have been about how to apportion responsibility and action across these imaginary lines, which capital has never had to respect, but people supposedly have. There’s not a lot of precedent for a self-consciously planetary-scale politics, but we find, at least, useful tools for developing them in the history of reparations activism.

More here.