Redistribution as social justice for decarbonising the global economy

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Although the issue of redistribution is glossed over by Marglin, there are three reasons why decarbonisation must be accompanied by a massive scaling up of redistribution the global North to South if the agenda is to be founded on a social justice approach. First, constructing a capital infrastructure in the South in a manner that maximises the potential for decarbonisation would tend to be very import-intensive. Hence, it would require external financing or else risk running aground through balance of payment constraints. Second, there is already a tendency in the global economy of siphoning resources from South to North, in particular through the increasing control over flows of value and wealth by Northern corporations from their commanding positions within international networks. Southern productivity needs to be contextualised from this perspective given the risk that climate negotiations lock in the subordination of Southern countries within these global networks, rather than seeking ways for producers to leverage more value for the output and carbon emissions they are already producing. Third, population and labour transitions in the South place relatively greater pressure than in the past on employment generation in tertiary (service) sectors, in which distributive and redistributive processes play essential roles in bolstering labour demand. The neglect of global redistribution could undermine the capacity of Southern countries to face these broader development challenges, which are already immense even in the absence of decarbonisation. A key question is how to organise global redistributive transfers in a manner that does not continue to subordinate Southern populations to Northern interests. The challenge for decarbonisation is the forging of a political will for redistribution that is motivated by climate change rather than geopolitics, and that respects national ownership and self-determination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-586
Number of pages13
JournalThe Economic and Labour Relations Review (print)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2014

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