Extractive Industries and Climate Change

It can no longer be neglected that climate change is occurring at an accelerated rate due to human influences. It is therefore key to understand the ecological debt debates and how they link to climate change. This paper seeks to explain exactly that and was written by Patrick Bond, the Director of Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal. This paper is published by the Economic Justice Network through the support of TrustAfrica. TrustAfrica works with partner organizations in all five sub regions of Africa and the Diaspora.

Contrary to rhetoric, Foreign Direct Investment does not ‘flow’ into Third World countries. Instead, ‘capital “hops” over “unusable Africa,” alighting only in mineral-rich enclaves that are starkly disconnected from their national societies. The result is not the formation of standardized national grids, but the emergence of huge areas of the continent that are effectively “off the grid,”’ as James Ferguson argues.
But Africa is sufficiently on the world grid for the purpose of not only mineral/petroleum extraction, but also abuse of the continent’s ‘ecological space’ and capacity to use nature for economic development. But being on-grid for resource extraction and environmental exploitation is a curse. It gives rise to the argument that the Northern industrialized powers owe the non-industrial South – especially Africa – a formal debt for taking too much ecological space, and for ripping out non-renewable resources in an unsustainable manner.