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Newsweek OpED: ‘Welcome to the New Era of Environmental Colonialism’ – ‘Green-wrapped bribes to developing countries…create a relationship of dependency’


There’s a new kind of colonialism afoot in rich nations, and much like the old colonialism, this one, too, purports to be for the good of the colonized. Today’s colonialists are Left-wing environmentalists exporting their vision of “climate justice” as a way to deal with global inequality. But despite the high-minded morality implied by the latest green agenda, just like older forms of colonialism, it creates a relationship of dependency that undermines the true interests of the colonized.

Environmental colonialism was on full display at a recent guilt fest, the UN’s latest climate summit, known as the COP27. The idea cooked up by the billionaires of Silicon Valley, London and Wall Street and agreed upon at the November summit by born again zealots like President Biden, is to provide “loss and damage” funding for countries hit hard by climate disasters. In other words, we’ve just committed to paying climate reparations.

Of course, governments in these countries will take the loot, and perhaps send some of it to useful pursuits. But what the developing world needs most is not a handout but the very technologies—including fossil fuels—that have served to reduce poverty globally. What poor countries and poor people everywhere need is not green blood money but help increasing the electricity supply that is critical for industrialization.

Yet climate-conscious Western governments, corporations and non-profits are doing the opposite: In the name of “climate justice,” they are trying to restrict access to fossil fuels for the world’s poorest nations, which offers the quickest path to development; indeed, it’s a point that was raised by African leaders during the COP27 conference, who made it clear that Fossil Fuels are indispensable for uplifting millions of citizens from poverty.

“There is a lot of oil and gas companies present at COP because Africa wants to send a message that we are going to develop all of our energy resources for the benefit of our people because our issue is energy poverty,” said Namibia’s petroleum commissioner, Maggy Shino, who works within the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.

To many in Africa and other developing countries, attempts to block fossil fuel expansion are greeted with increasing skepticism. They see the West’s demand that developing countries eschew fossil fuels as both self-defeating and hypocritical, particularly at a time when electricity is now less available in the developing world for the first time in decades, while virtue-signaling Europeans tap out out remaining oil and gas suppliers, leaving developing countries in the lurch.

Of course, as they take the West’s reparations, leaders in developing countries will look to Russia and China and perhaps the Middle Eastern oil states for capital, energy and, sadly, political models. Thanks to self-defeating environmental extremism, a new parallel world is being built increasingly outside of Western influence.

Rather than an engine of justice, climate reparations will exacerbate the growing separation between the West and everyone else. Even as the West sends green-wrapped bribes to developing countries, Russia isn’t playing the blood money card. Neither is China, which, despite being by far the world’s leading emitter, is not impacted by the reparations regime. Both are instead investing heavily in Africa, making windfall profits for themselves as well as tackling poverty in the South.

This explains the refusal of many developing countries to rally to the Ukrainian cause and embrace sanctions. Democracies like Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and India have called for peace and chose remain non-aligned on the conflict, just as they reject the energy austerity urged by the West.

These countries have other things to worry about than jeremiads from the White House, 10 Downing Street, or Greta Thunberg.

Environmentalism is creating deep alienation from the West in the Global South, and it will only grow. Instead of submitting to green poverty, African countries, likely with Chinese help, will seek to boost their energy resources, including hydrogen, nuclear and natural gas, irrespective of the well-fed green Cassandras.

In the battle is between abstract principle and developing their economies, governments will always opt for electricity, gas, and feeding their people.

This is a new world, and the West seems more concerned with their pained consciences than meeting its challenges. It’s not only going to hurt the Global South; it’s going to hasten the West’s demise. Since 1945, the U.S. economy has fallen from of 50 percent of Global GDP down to 20 percent as of today—which is almost the same as China’s. Europe’s downturn has been on a similar trajectory from almost a 30 percent share in 1980 to merely 16.5 percent in 2016. By 2050, only two EU economies—Germany and the UK—will join America the top 10 economies worldwide as measured by GDP.

As non-Western countries seek to grow, they may see the West as simply a convenient source of guilt money, rather than as a dependable business partner. China, Russia and India could well emerge their natural allies. Russia after all is the world’s largest exporter of grain, which forms the stable diet of many African countries, while China remains the World’s largest factory, able to supply products more easily than the steadily deindustrializing West.

Rather than sign up for an agenda that may well have minimal impact on temperatures, at least in the near future, these countries will prioritize their own interests, irrespective of what Western governments, increasingly woke corporations and green non-profits think is permissible.

The West’s desire to undermine even sustainable economic development in the developing world represents a gross version of colonialism. But this time, the Africans, Latin Americans and others realize that the West may set the moral tone but other countries, notably China and India, also have enough resources to provide the necessary technology and capital.

Rather than look to expand the alms box, perhaps the West should look instead on how to help developing countries help themselves by investing in critical and reliable energy necessary for development needed for economic growth. This is the only way out of permanent poverty, ceaseless dependency, and serfdom to the western elites.

Hügo Krüger is a Structural/Nuclear Engineer with working experience in a variety of energy related projects ranging from nuclear, oil and gas industry to renewable energy. Hügo is also a writer and YouTube podcaster, commenting and interviewing guests on a variety of topics relating to Engineering, Energy, Climate, Propaganda, and Geopolitical Matters.

Joel Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Urban Reform Institute. His new book, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism, is now out from Encounter. You can follow him on Twitter: @joelkotkin.