The environmental and social effects of the industrial capitalist system have long been obvious to marginalised communities forced to live in the garbage dumps of production while their resources are pillaged for raw materials. However, today, the systemic effects are increasingly visible to all. It’s clear, to save humanity and complex life on our precious planet, we need a major course change.
If we’re to survive, we need to figure out how to leave fossil fuels in the ground, and how to adapt to the already changing climate while moving towards renewable energies, sustainable levels of energy use and other social transformations.
Billions will be spent on trying to adapt – finding new water sources, restructuring agriculture and changing the crops that are grown, building sea walls to keep the saltwater out, changing the shape and style of cities – and on trying to shift to green sources of energy by building the required infrastructure and investing in green jobs and technology. But whose interest will this adaptation and energy transition serve? And who will be expected to bear the heaviest costs of the climate crisis, and of the responses to it?
Since the 1990s the alter-globalisation and food sovereignty movements have advanced large-scale critiques of neoliberal capitalism. In the 21st century a wide variety of movements have adopted a shared language of system change, arguing that human rights abuses, political and social harms, and the climate crisis can be addressed only by a transformation of our entire social, cultural, political, and economic system. However, whatever transition happens must not come at the price of the destruction of lives and livelihoods. Justice has to be a key factor. The movements often use an intersectional lens, arguing that sexism and patriarchy, racism, and other forms of violence and systems of oppression are fundamental features of the capitalist system, and must be addressed. Increasingly, these different calls are beginning to come together under the banner of Just Transition.
But what do we mean by a Just Transition, and how do we orient ourselves and our social movements towards a such a Transition?
On this episode of the SOP podcast, Hamza Hamouchene unpacks a vision for a Just Transition, with a specific focus on North Africa. Hamza has done research on extractivism, energy democracy, food sovereignty and environmental and climate justice in the North African context. He is also the coordinator for North Africa at the Transnational Institute, where he has recently put together a dossier, a collection of essays from multiple authors, focusing on different dimensions of the energy transition in North Africa.
With this year’s UN conference of the parties, COP27 taking place in Egypt, there seems to be no better time to put a spotlight on the region.
Episode Notes: Just Transition in North Africa https://longreads.tni.org/just-transition-in-north-africa
Extractivism and resistance in North Africa