November 8, 2019

Climate Liberation Bloc: Decolonizing the Dutch climate movement

One of this year’s Mama Cash’s Spark grants went to the Climate Liberation Bloc (CluB). This group lobbies for a more intersectional perspective within the Dutch climate movement. To speak of ‘saving nature’ misses the point, according to CluB: the entire colonial capitalist system is responsible for ecocide and must be dismantled.

In 2017, Chihiro Geuzebroek was one of a handful of climate activists who founded CluB. “A climate conference weekend which all of us had attended is what inspired us. We sorely missed the issue of justice there. While there were certainly some indirect references to human rights, the focus was unquestionably on the environment. However, climate problems didn't just appear out of the blue. They have a long history of colonial exploitation and extractivism of stolen land.”

Saviourism

The movement against ecocide and colonial capitalism both date back much further than we often think, according to Chihiro. “Of course it’s fantastic what Greta Thunberg is doing, and I certainly don’t want to play that down, but young people from Indigenous groups – with a capital ‘I’!* – have been saying for so long now that something needs to happen. We want their voices and leadership to be heard and respected. And safeguard the climate problem from saviourism and white-washing. Why is it that on posters we only see a white woman’s hands holding up planet Earth? If it’s predominantly women of colour who are most impacted by the climate crisis, then isn’t it fair to say that there is climate racism?”

CLuB organises workshops and talks, and earlier this year a hugely successful meet-up on ‘climate politics, racism and patriarchy’. “Our goal is to push the discussion on the climate forward, but also to create spaces for activists of colour to feel welcome - free from sexism and racism. Spaces where people who have an indigenous or migrant background can share their feelings of grief and anger over the loss of their homeland or living environment.” In this context, for instance, CluB organized a ‘decolonial’ poetry show.

Historical responsibility

CLuB also runs campaigns, including co-organising the Shell Must Fall-campaign. “That company is such a major climate criminal that not only dumps radioactive waste and poisons water sources, but also uses violence, works with paramilitary forces, evades taxes and systematically violates human rights. We in the Netherlands have a historical responsibility to show unequivocal solidarity with the people who are victims of Shell, through massive peaceful protests from the Ogoni in Nigeria to the Mapuche in South America. It’s high time to dismantle this climate criminal in our midst.”


* The (unusual) capital is Chihiro’s reference to a vision in which the Indigenous identity correlates with national identities such as Dutch, English, Spanish.

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