The Manifestation of Climate Injustices: The Post-Hurricane Irma Conflicts Surrounding Barbuda’s Communal Land Tenure

Hurricane Irma caused significant destruction to the Caribbean during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season. In its aftermath, many of these Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are left with the dilemma of seeking ways to rebuild in some cases entire nation states. Using the case study of Antigua and Barbuda, where Barbuda was the first Caribbean island to receive a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, the paper begins to explore the ways in which the global system of exploitation of SIDS exacerbates internal historical conflicts which is a manifestation of climate injustices. Specifically, the Barbudans’ relative privilege in having inherited communal land rights have become, for the government, the barrier standing in the way of the only alternative funding sources for reconstruction, foreign tourism investment. Using the theoretical underpinnings of climate justice, we argue that the causers of climate change, who are generally the inheritors of the historic colonization, exploitation and impoverishment of these states, will effectively benefit from the intensity of Hurricane Irma, given that they will eventually get access to Barbudan land if the communal land rights are revoked.

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