Climate Justice

The word justice is a noun that does not usually need to be modified. As Dennis Prager has stated, you either have justice or you do not and if someone adds an adjective to modify justice, it means they have a (left-wing) agenda. In other words, if someone feels the need to add a modifier to justice that generally means they are trying to justify some injustice. Thus, there is social justice, racial justice, food justice, and now climate justice.

What is climate justice? Apparently, it is a way to justify keeping Africans poor and denying the use of Africa’s natural resources to make their lives bearable. At least that is the impression I get from this article I read from the Institute for Policy Studies.

This week, the House will vote on the Electrify Africa Act. This bill directs the president to draw up a multi-year strategy to strengthen the ability of countries in sub-Saharan Africa to “develop an appropriate mix of power solutions” to provide electricity, fight poverty, and “drive economic growth.”

Who could be opposed to helping African countries develop a workable infrastructure in order to drive economic growth. The only possible consideration I would have would be to make sure the money actually goes to helping people and not straight into the pockets of corrupt officials. The climate justice crowd have another objection, it might work.

Because of strong pressure from climate justice advocates, some positives—such as integrated resource planning and decentralized renewable energy—are named as a part of that mix. But because it still leaves the door wide open to fossil fuels, the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect people or their environment.

And the debate over Electrify Africa continues as the Senate drafts a companion bill.

Behind both pieces of legislation is a White House initiative announced last summer called “Power Africa.” It frames President Barack Obama’s approach to energy investment on the continent, which has been condemned by environmental justice groups. It’s an “all of the above” energy strategy that favors the fossil fuel companies that are destroying the planet and corrupting Washington.

Proponents of Electrify and Power Africa have been most publicly enthusiastic about new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas on the continent, which has many African activists wary of a resource grab. Executives from companies like General Electric—which according to Forbes has recently pivoted its attention to the continent—have appeared on the podium with President Obama to applaud the policy.

At a March Senate hearing on Power Africa, Del Renigar, Senior Counsel for Global Government Affairs and Policy at GE, even noted that one of the company’s “most significant efforts to date has been focused on the privatization of the Nigerian power sector.” He lauded the potential of Power Africa to help “reduce the obstacles” to negotiating deals for power projects. And some backers of dirty energy are attempting to use the initiative to weaken the existing environmental safeguard policies of national development finance institutions such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Well, God forbid we allow the Africans to develop the vast reserves of oil and gas on their continent. That might actually alleviate the endemic poverty of the region. To be sure, there is a danger that countries that rely on the export of energy will be plagued with corruption and will fail to develop a more diverse economy. One only needs to look at the example of a country like Nigeria or much of the Middle East to see what a curse large reserves of oil can be. But again, that is not what the climate justice advocates are worrying about. They don’t seem to want the African people to have “dirty” energy. If that means that the African people must make do without energy, well, too bad.

They do address this objection.

The backers of keeping dirty energy in Power Africa like to portray their opponents as privileged elites who want to keep Africans “in the dark” by denying them electricity and industrialization, while keeping their own lights on.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The real concern here is that U.S. taxpayers will wind up supporting African energy development that caters to corporate industrial zones and natural resource exporters, leaving the majority of Africans in rural and neglected urban areas still without access to power and exposed to dangerous pollution.

Yes, that is precisely what they want, to keep Africans in the dark. Of course energy development will cater to corporate industrial zones and natural resource exporters, at first. But, if corruption is kept to an acceptable minimum and the economies of the various African companies are opened up to the free market, the amount of wealth in Africa will increase. Over time, prosperity ought to spread from the industrial zones out to rural and urban Africa, unless people like the Climate Justice movement interfere with the process.

A climate justice movement with a clear vision for a clean, equitable energy future is making itself heard. The drivers of this movement are people living on the front line of dirty energy in poorer countries and in low-income neighborhoods in wealthier nations like the United States. They understand firsthand the effects of dirty energy pollution and climate chaos, and are champions of innovative forms of clean rural and urban electrification—not only in the Global South, but just as urgently in the heavily polluting Global North. In fact, an international campaign to demand climate justice, representing over 100 groups in developing and developed countries, has called for efforts to ensure “people’s access to clean, safe, and renewable energy sources.”

In Africa, climate justice activists are speaking eloquently about a new economy for Africans and everyone else that leapfrogs fossil fuels and delivers electricity to hundreds of millions of people through clean energy and energy efficiency.

There are reasons why fossil fuels still produce most of the energy in the world. Fossil fuels are cheap and efficient. Renewable energy sources only make up around 9% of the total energy consumed in the United States. Of this 9%, 30% is from hydroelectric sources. The trouble is that Africa does not have many navigable rivers, only the Nile and the Congo can be traveled any great distance from the ocean. African does, however, have a number of small, swift rivers that are ideal for the construction of hydroelectric dams and other facilities. Unfortunately, they are not often near the largest concentrations of populations. Still, hydroelectric power does have a future in Africa. I don’t think that is what these people have in mind, though. I have a feeling they would oppose the construction of dams as much as they oppose the construction of coal-fired power plants.

The bottom line is that if you insist that Africa only be powered by clean, renewable energy that has a minimal impact on the environment, that is the same as insisting that Africa have no power at all. If technologically advanced countries find renewable energy to be expensive and limited, why should African countries be any different. One of the biggest problems that I have with the environmentalists is their doctrine that their concept of environmental purity come before the good of human beings, particularly the poorer, darker skinned human beings. This is just another example of their callous disregard for the welfare of the world’s poor.

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One Response to “Climate Justice”

  1. The Last Refuge | David's Commonplace Book Says:

    […] modifier. If someone modifies the word justice with adjectives to make phases like social justice, climate justice, or food justice, justice is not really what they have in mind. Likewise, adding an adjective to […]

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