A Logical Critique of the Ecological Imperialism of “Carbon Politics” and its Transcendence

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.3, 2016


A Logical Critique of the Ecological Imperialism of “Carbon Politics” and its Transcendence



Huan Qingzhi


As ecological discourse and practice in the broad sense, “carbon politics” devotes itself to protecting the global environment. But in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, international carbon politics displays the logic or character of ecological imperialism. It embodies a situation in which, on the foundation of their domestic capitalist economies and politics, a few Western countries maintain and expand their historically advantageous position in the international hierarchy or their historically exclusive hegemony, forming an internal obstacle to the building of a fairer, more democratic and more effective global climate or environmental governance system. The exposure and critique of the logic of carbon politics and ecological imperialism has come mainly from the theoretical resources of the “Green Left,” with its base in the tradition of Marxist philosophy and political economy, which has laid the foundation for seeking an alternative path for dealing effectively with global climate change. The process of participating in international carbon politics in the post-Kyoto/Paris era (2020—2030), must direct its efforts to discourse and political practice in the sense of a “twofold combination.” At present, the socialist practice of ecological civilization with Chinese characteristics and its constructive discourse express China’s thinking and theories on taking an active part in global carbon politics in the future. For China, as a responsible big country, addressing climate change is not only an internal necessity for advancing sustainable development domestically but also involves the assumption of responsibility for building a community of common future for all mankind. This means the times justify the inevitability of China’s becoming the world leader in addressing global climate change or environmental governance through making contributions rather than struggling for power.