UCL Institute of the Americas


'1.5 oC to stay alive'?: climate change, imperialism and 'co2lonialism' in the Caribbean

15 February 2017, 5:30 pm

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UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

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Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins (University of Warwick) - Existing discussions of climate change reduce it to a technical problem to be solved by better science, engineering or economics. Taking responses to climate change in the Caribbean region as case study which is instructive for responses globally, this article examines the social and political relations of climate change to argue for an alternative understanding.

This paper will argue that any analysis of climate change must take into account the ways in which the histories of imperialism and colonialism that have shaped contemporary global 'development' pathways. The paper will also chart the ways in which the region's vulnerability to temperature rises of more than 1.5oC of warming comprise an existential threat that is structured by contemporary social relations which are imperialist in character. I suggest that the only hope for any kind of political and ethical response to climate change must be conceived of in terms of a politics of climate justice which acknowledges the climate debts owed to the region.

Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins : "My work centres on the social relations of climate change, with a particular focus on the Caribbean region. In my research I consider the sociology and politics of climate change in the Caribbean, investigating what climate justice means in the context of global historical, and present, inequalities. I am particularly keen to bring a sociological lens to bear upon what are often very unsociological, and depoliticised, discussions of climate change." Dr Sealey-Huggins is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Global Sustainable Development programme in the School for Cross-Faculty Studies at the University of Warwick.