Ceasing the Means of Reduction: Toward a New Antiracist Approach to Community Solar Campaigns
This seminar is presented by Myles Lennon, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Environment and Society & Anthropology (Institute at Brown for Environment and Society). The seminar is part of the Social Life of Climate Change Michaelmas Term Seminars 2021.
Environmental justice activists in the U.S. have recently launched local solar campaigns to empower communities of color as part of their broader efforts for anti-racist climate justice. But these campaigns often prioritize what I call the means of reduction over the means of production. The means of reduction refers to the graphics, spreadsheets, and calculations that apprehend a good or service as capable of reducing negative phenomena such as carbon emissions or high electricity bills. By centering the means of reduction in their community solar campaigns, EJ activists overlook the extractive, exploitative, and capital-intensive material realities of solar technology production. In the process, they undercut their antiracist, climate justice goals. In this talk, I call for a new community solar campaign approach that shifts the focus from the means of reduction to the means of production. This approach repurposes the environmental justice concept of “co-pollutants” to illuminate environmental injustices throughout solar supply chains. It then addresses these injustices by: (1) leveraging economies of scale across marginalized communities in ways that prioritize solar technologies produced under safe, fair, and sustainable working conditions; and (2) fostering solidarity between marginalized communities on both ends of the supply chain.
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