Why is a well known environmental group now taking action against mass deportations? Well, as Audre Lourde says, “there’s no such thing as a single issue campaign, because we do not live single issue lives”. We do not see ourselves as “environmentalists”, nor do we see the fight against airport expansion or the fight against climate change as isolated from any other issue. Airport expansion is a form of violence and a form of oppression, one that a minority of people will benefit from the profits, whilst countless people will suffer from loss of community and health, both locally and globally. As Black Lives Matter clearly stated back in September, the climate crisis is a racist crisis as it is Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies feel the worst effects of this violence. Oppressions are connected and the different forms it takes often share common roots. These roots include capitalism, racism, hetero-patriarchy and colonialism. Migration and borders cannot be seen as separate to any of this. As Harsha Walia so eloquently outlines in “Undoing Border Imperialism”, borders are not mere things, they are part of a process of exploitation and displacement. This is very clear when we consider how different the rules are for corporations. Businesses are free to cross the globe at will, extracting resources, using cheap, or even slave labour, leaving behind environmental disaster, making profit and dodging tax and responsibility along the way. People who happen to have the wrong documents, the wrong nationality or skin tone are violently attacked for trying to cross these borders. Mass deportations closely link to the ongoing process of colonialism. But so does airport expansion. Just as Heathrow is given a green light to build a new runway and drive climate chaos, corporations like Shell have been free to exploit the oil fields of the Niger Delta for decades. Through this they have caused as much oil spills each year as the Deepwater Horizon disaster, caused a health crisis from water contamination, murdered activists such as Ken Saro Wiwa and also been a major driver of climate chaos. Yet, when people from this region seek a better life here in the UK, a country that benefits from the cheap oil that Shell provides, they are distrusted about their eligibility if seeking asylum and violently deported on mass. Profit for corporations, environmental destruction, and racist migration and asylum processes are all tied together in a insidious web. As Wretched of the Earth succinctly put it “Your Climate Profits Kill” and they do so in a myriad of ways. With such intertwined roots, we cannot stop the climate crisis without stopping the processes of colonialism that corporations are engaged in or without stopping the racist deportations that the UK government carries out to facilitate this process. To attempt to do otherwise is blind optimism at best or whitewashed environmentalism at worst.
Plane Stupid in Why did Plane Stupid chain themselves to the runway at Stansted Airport? (Newinternationalist)