Race and climate change

Western countries are the worst perpetrators of climate breakdown, while the global south is the most impacted. In times of economic crisis, racism and fascism grow and we have seen this occur over the past decade.

Some of the negative rhetoric, dangerously, is repeated by climate activists including recently whereby Extinction Rebellion stated that the net environmental footprint is increased by people migrating and that this contributes to climate change and there ought to be harsher immigration controls.

When extreme weather impacts on farming, people are forced to leave rural homes and go to cities, this leads to overcrowding, poverty and conflict so people have to flee.

Most countries worst hit by climate change are countries living with the legacies of colonialism, enslavement and invasion.

For several years I with other black-led organisations have made the links between climate change, migration, refugees and racism but we have seen for example, young black women organising on these issues face hostility at climate demos.

There have also been some misjudged direct actions around climate which targeted areas made up of those who are migrant communities who know first-hand about the impacts of climate change and displacement.

It’s crucial that the climate movement includes black people, those from the global south.

For the past 5 years my organisation BARAC UK has coordinated aid and solidarity convoys/distributions to refugees in France providing practical support, addressing cultural and religious needs and supporting people to get assistance, advice, food and essentials not just while in France but where they are able to, when they get to the UK.

Most people impacted would prefer to stay in their countries with their families and communities so solutions must include looking at how we can support people to survive and live without having to flee.

The climate movement cannot not be a movement of hierarchy and division if it is to be successful in bringing people together globally and in order to save the planet. Crucially it cannot be racist and it is not enough for it to just be anti-racist, it must be for race equality and build a global movement for all and by all.

If you are organising campaigning activities around climate change, to make sure it is inclusive and encourages and welcomes black and migrant communities and activists and include them on platforms.


Zita Holbourne, PCS vice president

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