Extractivism in Times of Crisis: Climate, Energy and Food

IE-Talk (HYBRID) with Alberto Alonso-Fradejas & Thea Riofrancos

Lecture and Discussion with Alberto Alonso-Fradejas & Thea Riofrancos as part of the ie.talks – Public Lecture Series of the Department of Development Studies, that has been organized in cooperation with Environmental Colloquium, the Research Network Latin America and the Department of Political Science:

Moderation: Felix Dorn

The climate and socioeconomic crises have sparked renewed global interest in natural resources. Especially in the context of climate change mitigation efforts, green technologies and renewable energy have emerged as increasingly attractive sites for capitalist investment. This is connected with questions of legitimation of extractive activities, the changing role of the state, new geopolitical constellations, and questions of social and ecological reproduction. In our hybrid ie-talks event on „Extractivism in Times of Crisis: Climate, Energy and Food“, Alberto Alonso-Fradejas (Wageningen University) and Thea Riofrancos (Providence College) shed light on the multiple extractivisms in the context of current crisis dimensions.

Alberto Alonso-Fradejas (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Agrarian Extractivism for the Brave New Green Economy: A Socioecological Reproduction Perspective

The climate and socioeconomic crises of our times have reinvigorated the global interest on natural resources for business, poverty reduction and climate change mitigation purposes. Together with conventional and ‘critical’ minerals and rare earths, crops like oil palm and trees like eucalyptus with multiple and flexibly interchangeable uses as carbon sinks and sources of biomaterials and renewable energy, are at the core of the brave new green economy that allegedly champions the needs of humanity and Planet Earth. But in so doing, these so-called flex crops and commodities complexes often unleash a ‘green purge’ of human and more-than-human life through a process of agrarian extractivism. We know that different forms of agro-commodity production ranging from agroecology to agro-industry, regenerative farming, climate-smart agriculture and agro-extractivism rely on natural resource extraction to a greater or lesser extent. The question that remains is how to account for the intensity of resource extraction of diverse forms of agriculture, but also of fishing, forestry and mining, which ranges from necessary to predatory extractivism. Addressing this compelling question will help us discern what we mean by agrarian extractivism and how we can assess its implications for social and ecological reproduction in today’s world.

Thea Riofrancos (Providence College, USA)
Extraction: The Frontiers of Green Capitalism
Will green capitalism save us from the climate crisis? „Clean“ technologies and renewable energy are certainly growing sites of capitalist investment, with government policies playing a key role in making these sectors profitable. But the supply chains that produce the technologies pose vexing dilemmas for the energy transition. These dilemmas are most dramatic at the extractive frontiers of green capitalism: where the natural resources needed to manufacture electric vehicles and build windmills are extracted. In this talk, we will unpack these challenges through the lens of lithium, a so-called „critical mineral“ essential for its role in decarbonizing one of the most polluting sectors: transportation. With forecasters predicting an enormous surge in lithium demand, exceeding existing supplies, Global North governments and downstream firms scramble to „secure“ lithium, resulting in a new state-corporate alliance and the return of vertical integration. Meanwhile, environmental and Indigenous movements contest the rapid expansion of extraction, defending ecosystems, livelihoods, and waterways already under pressure from global warming from a new boom in mining. It is in the play of these forces, unfolding amidst geopolitical rivalry and economic turbulence, that the energy transition will be forged. To conclude, we will explore the possibility of a less mining-intensive pathway to zero carbon transportation.

Location: Hörsaal III, NIG, Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien
Zoom-Registration: https://univienna.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5YodeqpqT4tGdFB04mmOC17LBi_QFof81Oa

Kategorie: Events
Datum: 24. May 2023, 17:30–19:00
Ort: Universität Wien, Hörsaal III, NIG, Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien