By Arran Rangi, Young Greens Co-Convenor
In the wake of the climate protests across the world, the issue of climate change has finally received more media attention. However, with this new-found spotlight, we must address many of the fundamental problems with climate activism; namely the lack of focus on the issue of race.
As with all widescale issues, whether it is an economic crash or an environmental disaster, people of colour and other marginalised groups bear the brunt first. And climate change is no different, particularly when we look at it through a global context.
Out of the 10 biggest polluters per person, ‘Western’ countries make up 6 of them with the UK coming in at an 8th place. However, the disastrous effects of climate change are felt hardest in other parts of the world. For example, rising sea levels being a threat to the Maldives or exacerbated droughts in South Africa. Whereas in the ‘West’ the effects of climate change are negated by the mass concentration of wealth. Thus showing how the inherently racist world structures allow the West to pollute at the peril of the rest of the world.
Furthermore, the UK has a historical responsibility when it comes to climate change. It was for this reason Black Lives Matter UK shut down London’s City airport. Britain has always had an issue acknowledging its dark past, particularly when it comes to the British Empire. Many former colonies of Britain are now struggling to deal with the rapid rise in sea levels and global warming. For instance, Bangladesh is a country susceptible to flooding and is facing a huge struggle to ease the effects of climate change. As with many European countries, Britain’s colonial history has left countries around the world poorer and less able to cope with the disastrous effects of climate change.
The disparity between how climate change affects ‘Western’ countries compared to those in the ‘Global South’ highlights the racial bias in the international systems. Although the IPCC report gave us 12 years, a lot of the planet cannot wait that long. As a movement, we must become more diverse to allow discussions like these to enter the mainstream. A more diverse and collective movement will only make us stronger.