We are normally told that climate responsibility is diffuse. Particularly in the Global North it is “all of us” with our high carbon footprints and affluent lifestyles. In this talk, I use theories of social class to critique this narrative and argue that climate responsibility is actually quite concentrated among the small minority of people who own, control and profit from industrial production. I illustrate this argument through an analysis of the nitrogen fertilizer industry and its role in not only producing climate change, but also the other noted “planetary boundary” of the nitrogen cycle.
Matt Huber is Associate Professor of Geography at Syracuse University. He is the author of Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom and the Forces of Capital(University of Minnesota Press, 2013). He is currently working on a book on class and climate politics for Verso Books.