Below is a statement written by Yaw and myself which I delivered on behalf of Black Earth at the Anti-Colonial Attack demo organised in conjunction with Ende Gelände in Hamburg, Sunday 31 July 2021.
In so-called Australia, where I grew up, in Turtle Island (where some of my family have settled), and the in the First Nations of the Americas, colonial states and extractivist industries work hand-in-glove to destroy ecologies, ways of living and indeed worlds. In these settler-colonial states, fracking is yet another form of exceptional violence. Notable because the supply of LNG, like other fossil fuels, is relatively short-lived in contrast to cultures that have survived tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. For example, last year Rio Tinto destroyed a 46 000 year old cultural site, the Juukkan Gorge cave, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
While fracking can be seen as a direct violence targeting marginalised – often racialised, colonised people and economically poor people, the development of Global Gas Industry is complex. Australia, for example, has substantial offshore gas fields that are reserved for export, creating a ‘false’ domestic shortfall. This is how the gas industry argues for fracking to supply domestic energy needs.
While Qatar recently surpassed Australia as the major producer of LNG, in Europe the establishment of LNG as a transitional fuel, and the proposed shipped-gas terminals in Schleswig-Holstein follows deals made with the US; to develop infrastructure and thus markets for its fracked gas and to refrain the US from sanctioning the Nord Stream II pipeline.
It is notable that investment analysis from Accenture Strategy and Bloomberg are already questioning the viability of LNG projects in Europe as cheaper and greener energy sources enter markets in the coming decades.
Also notable is a recent report from the International Energy Agency (05/2021) titled ‘Net Zero by 2050; A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’. The IEA – which has historically supported the expansion of fossil fuel industries to meet supply shortages – is now backing a zero emissions future, stating that there should be no new investment in coal or gas projects if the world was to reach net zero emission by 2050.
The flip side of the coin is ‘Green Colonialism’, for example as we see in Sápmi, the lands of the Sámi people in the North of Europe, currently occupied by Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia. Here state and corporate interests to develop wind farms (eg Øyfjellet and Rastigaisa Fell) have lead to major incursions into Sámi lands disrupting reindeer herding and destroying delicate ecologies — again destroying worlds. These developments are in conflict with agreements to protect Sàmi rights and are currently being challenged in the courts, nevertheless these sites are being cleared and pushed ahead – fueled by massive state and corporate investments, including the pre-sale of these energy supplies.
While we should really focus on supporting the frontline struggles of indigenous people, we also find green capitalism and colonialism in front of out backdoor! In This intervoven world of exploitation no capitalist infrastructure is free of a bloody footprint. Here in Hamburg we can find the coal power plant Moorburg which was depending on bloody hard coal taken from the land of our siblings.
Now since a short while it’s shut down, sounds good, but first it’s not enough, second it’s too late, third it was already stupid and unsustainable to build it. Moreover the different companies Vattenfall, Shell, Mitshubi are planning together with the City of Hamburg to start a new ‘green’ project of producing hydrogen, to deliver more energy for dirty industry which will continue the circle of exploitation and pollution. The hydrogen is either depending on gas again or on outsourced renewables from the Global South and former colonies again.
The same companies who got billions of ‘repetitions’ in secret deals.. the same companies who killed the Ogoni 9 like Shell. The same companies who were and are the top polluters for decades try now to change their mask to a green progressive player.
These examples of ‘Green Colonialism’ demonstrate how decisions about renewable energy infrastructures must involve indigenous people. They prompt us to demand that indigenous people, as minority populations, have proper political representation and that climate justice movements also get behind indigenous leadership. Otherwise the climate emergency will become a means for state/corporate/industry actors to accelerate colonialism under the guise of ‘saving the planet’. Baked into the climate crisis is a power struggle about whose lives matter, whose worlds are worth saving and whose solutions are deemed legitimate, practical and commensurate with those who wield power. To be anticolonial is to take back the power, and as Dr Christopher Basaldu from the Carrizo Comecrudo tribe urged us to do yesterday at the camp in Brunsbüttel, to be anticolonial is to find other respectful relations in power.