«CO2lonialism»: the rise of history in global environmental diplomacy

Social and human sciences are paying increasing attention to the colonial origins of the Anthropocene and planetary environmental transformation. A much-explored topic is the reordering the world by European imperial powers and during US driven economic globalization and how it redesigned the Earth-system at the same time as it created worldwide environmental imbalances. Although scholarly attempts to systemize and provide historical evidence for this causal relation are just emerging, this theory has been present throughout the development of modern environmental diplomacy in a more or less explicit manner. It became especially pregnant in polarizations between the global North and South. In this paper I explore the way historical arguments were elaborated and used in this context, especially by coalitions of Southern countries such as the G77 + China and thanks to unilateral initiatives by diplomatic powers of the global South such as Brazil or India. While becoming popular in global climate activism, the «CO2lonialism» argumentation has also suffered recent breaches through criticisms coming from the Global South itself, especially small island states and some nations of Africa and South Asia facing major climatic risks. The paper discusses the implications of this development for the use of the past in environmental diplomacy and the role to be played by history in global climate politics.

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