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RACISM AND CLIMATE CHANGE

We co-hosted a 'community conversation' with XR about racism and climate change. 

They are symptoms of the same toxic system and need to be addressed together.

All four speakers talked of the impact of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Stephanie Onamade of Stand Up To Racism reminded us that climate catastrophe is happening right now in the global South. Shell has been destroying the lives of people in Ogoni land in Nigeria for 60 years; ‘now they’re destroying the world for all of us,’ said Lazarus Tamana, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People.

 

Local air pollution activist David Smith of Little Ninja drew attention to the high levels of air pollution experienced by people living on main roads, often the poorest, often of BAME origin.

 

‘We must tell the whole truth,’ emphasised Kofi Mawuli Klu of XR Internationalist Solidarity Network. ‘Why aren’t we protesting about children in the Congo mining cobalt to go in our mobile phones? To free ourselves, we must unify and rally around that.

After the speeches, people broke into small groups to discuss what action we need to take locally and their ideas will now be shared with the council.

Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth is asking the Council to hold a Citizens’ Assembly bringing together people from local groups representing all sections of the population to develop concrete plans to address every aspect of Wandsworth’s Environmental and Sustainability Strategy. The Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019.

STOP SCAPEGOATING REFUGEES

August 29, 2020

Refugees Welcome

The climate emergency threatens us all. However, we are not all impacted equally. The crisis is overwhelmingly caused by the behaviour of big business and the rich. But they are also the ones most able to shield themselves from the consequences. 

At the other end of the scale, the poor (especially those living in the Global South) are most exposed to the effects, and suffer accordingly. 

Estimates about the numbers compelled to flee because of catastrophic climate change vary. But it is clear that the numbers are very high (tens of millions a year), and the conditions driving them are rapidly getting worse.

Natural

Faced with this crisis, the natural response would be to show solidarity, to welcome refugees who need our help and to try and address the root causes of the climate catastrophe.

Instead, far too many of our leaders want to continue with toxic business as usual – and to scapegoat refugees, migrants and others – for whose plight they bear direct responsibility.

This is most clearly illustrated by the likes of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, who deregulate and subsidise the most polluting industries at the same time as they whip up hatred of those on the sharp end of their policies.

But our own government has also played a disgraceful role, shown most recently in their contempt for the desperate people crossing the Channel in flimsy boats.

Home secretary Priti Patel described the death of the young Sudanese man, Abdulfatah Hamdallah, who drowned trying to cross as ‘upsetting and tragic’. But he died because of government policy. She has his blood on her hands.

If we offered safe passage for asylum seekers, he could have travelled safely – and far more cheaply – like most of us. Instead, warships are told to patrol the the area to repel the invaders!

It’s all part of the deadly ‘hostile environment’ that has already given us the Windrush scandal.

 

Audacity

The audacity of climate campaigners from Greta Thunberg to Extinction Rebellion and the #YouthStrike4Climate has been deeply inspiring. They have kickstarted a global conversation about the severity of the crisis facing us and the measures we must take to address it. 

Some of their energy and ideas have fed into this summer’s historic Black Lives Matters protests.

The climate movement will flourish even more if it puts anti-racism at its heart, making clear its commitment to those at the sharp end of environmental destruction.

Please get involved with Wandsworth Stand Up To Racism to fight racism and highlight the climate emergency.