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Call For Papers: Climate Shange Stream at the Eleventh London Historical Materialism Conference, 6-9 November 2014

As business-as-usual continues, annual growth of global CO2 emission now three times higher than in the 1990s, it is becoming abundantly clear that the capitalist mode of production is unable to stave off perhaps the greatest challenge ever faced by civilisation: catastrophic global warming. Rather, it is hurling humanity into the fire with maximum force. Yet capital remains a non-entity in established climate change discourse and politics: unquestioned, unexamined, rarely as much as mentioned. This stream at the HM annual conference 2014 will seek to cast light on the many ways in which the workings of capital raise the temperature of our present and future. Marxist analysis has recently proved a fertile source of critique in this field, but much work remains to be done, on levels of theory as well as of urgent praxis.

What mechanisms are driving the ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels? How can historical materialist approaches serve to identify the vested interests of business-as-usual? The ecological implications of capitalist development are only now becoming apparent: this might require a rethinking and recalibration of Marxist theories, from the founding fathers to more recent currents (e.g. autonomist Marxism, political Marxism, world-systems theory, feminist Marxism: what do they have to offer; how do they need to be updated?). Dangerous impacts of climate change have already become part of daily life, but they strike unevenly along lines of class, gender, race, location in the world-economy: can patterns of vulnerability be understood – and altered – without a little help from the Marxist tool-box? As people suffer from the heat, capital is not only surviving but thriving, developing new ways to profit from adaptation and false solutions. This calls for application of all the instruments of critical political economy. Given the speed with which the window for meaningful mitigation is closing, any break with current trajectories would certainly require dramatic upheavals: are some of the old precepts of revolutionary Marxism slated for an unexpected comeback? How, for instance, would it be possible to cut CO2 emissions by 5% per year – as science tells us is necessary – without comprehensive planning of the economy? While the scientific community rings the alarm bells ever louder, climate movements are spreading across the world, though nowhere as fast and extensively as needed. With COP-20 in Paris in 2015 on the horizon, strategies for more effective mobilisation should be on top of the agenda.

Although this stream focuses on climate change, that particular problem cannot be extricated from the ecological totality that is capitalism, and so we welcome contributions on related issues of ecology as well.

Themes of papers may include:

Global capital circuits and their dependency on fossil energy
The history of fossil fuel consumption and production
Urbanisation, global cities and global warming
Obstacles to a transition from fossil to renewable energy
Strategies for radical emissions reductions
The politics of international climate change negotiations
Planned economy as an emergency solution
Geoengineering, carbon trading and other capitalist forms of climate change management
Climate justice movements
Local environmental struggles worldwide and their links to climate justice
Ecologically unequal exchange and imperialism in a warming world
Uneven and combined development and vulnerability to climate change
Neoliberal capitalism as an ecological regime
Catastrophe as a category of Marxist thought / pitfalls of catastrophism
Working-class environmentalism, past and present
Climate change and gender
Peasants’ movements
Advances in ecological Marxist theory (second contradiction, metabolic rift, capitalism as world-ecology…)
Whatever happened to peak oil?
Climate jobs and trade union struggles
Revolutionary subjects in a warming world
Marxist perspectives on climate change science

Please register your abstracts here before May 15:



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