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Climate Crises and the Creation of ‘Undeserving’ Victims
journal contributionposted on 22.04.2021, 03:54 by Elizabeth StanleyElizabeth Stanley
This paper explores how advanced liberal democracies respond to climate migrants in ways that reflect colonial logics and practices. With a focus on the Pacific, it reflects on three constructions of climate crisis victims. First, as savages—those incapable of adapting or thriving under catastrophic environmental threats and who need to be saved by ‘the West’. Secondly, as threats—the hordes who will threaten white civilization and who must be sorted, excluded, detained and deported. Thirdly, as ‘non-ideal’ victims—those undeserving of full legal protections but who may survive under hostile conditions in receiving states. These political and policy responses create systemic harms and injustice for those who struggle under or must flee environmental degradation, and they function to ensure that those most to blame for climate crises are prioritized as having least responsibility to take action. The paper concludes with consideration of socially just responses to those most affected from climate harms.