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By Hamza Hamouchene 

‘Green colonialism’ refers to the ways in which the costs of producing renewable energy and green technologies often fall on colonised peoples’ like Indigenous groups, and Global South countries. It is a form of neo-colonialism.

With the effects of climate change being undeniable, even by the fossil fuel industry, many countries are speaking of a “green transition.” But the current uneven transition to renewable energies, which is happening mainly in the global North, is based on the ongoing extraction of base minerals and rare earth metals such as cobalt, lithium, copper, nickel, and graphite that are used for manufacturing solar panels, wind turbines, blades and electrical batteries. Where will these resources come from? The answer is from countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Bolivia, Chile, Indonesia and Morocco, where environmental destruction and workers’ exploitation will continue and even intensify. This is what we call green colonialism, and it is a form of neo-colonialism.

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Neocolonialism

‘Green colonialism’ can be defined as the extension of the colonial relations of plunder and dispossession (as well as the dehumanisation of the other) in the era of the so-called green transition. Green colonialism pushes costs onto peripheral countries and communities and prioritises the energy and environmental needs (such as water) of one region of the world over another.

Even though some claim the era of colonialism has formally ended – the continuation of colonialism via other forms is what some scholars and activists call neo-colonialism. In the global economy the ‘periphery’ — located in the global South — provides cheap natural resources and acts as a reservoir of cheap labour. The core, on the other hand, acts as a market for industrialized/high-technology economies. The Core needs to always maintain its domination over the periphery, in order to turn raw materials into finished commodities that it can sell.  This situation has been imposed and shaped by colonialism and attempts to break away from it have been thwarted so far by the new tools of imperial subjugation: export-oriented predatory extractivism, crippling debts, the religion of ‘free trade’, and the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) imposed by International Financial Institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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