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  • Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs

  • I've got to start by admitting that in many ways

  • me giving a talk about how climate action can help Black communities is surprising.

  • I grew up poor and Black with a single mother in Tottenham,

  • one of the most deprived areas in London,

  • in the 1970s and '80s.

  • Climate change was the last thing on my mind.

  • And representing Tottenham as its member of Parliament for the past 20 years,

  • my focus has been on trying to reduce the deprivation I grew up around.

  • In the past, the climate crisis never featured at the forefront of my politics

  • because it was never one of the most immediate challenges

  • my constituents were facing,

  • or at least it didn't feel like it.

  • Rising sea levels feel unimportant when your bank balance is falling.

  • Global warming is not your concern when you can't pay the heating bills.

  • And you're not thinking about pollution when you're being stopped by the police.

  • And so perhaps this is why

  • as the Black Lives Matter movement roared across the world,

  • there's been so little mention of saving Black lives

  • from the climate emergency.

  • For too long, those of us who cared about racial justice

  • treated environmental justice as though it was elitist.

  • And at the same time,

  • the leaders who did focus on climate change

  • were usually white

  • and rarely bothered to enlist the support of Black voices in their work.

  • Even progressive allies sometimes took our votes for granted

  • and assumed that our community didn't care or wouldn't understand.

  • The truth is the opposite is true.

  • Black people breathe in the most toxic air relative to the general population.

  • We are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases like asthma.

  • And it is people of color

  • who are more likely to suffer in the climate crisis.

  • This is no coincidence.

  • The cheapest housing tends to be next to the busiest roads,

  • and many of the lowest paid jobs are in the most polluting industries.

  • People of color consistently lie at the bottom of the housing,

  • educational and employment ladders.

  • This story connects Black communities across the world,

  • from London to Lagos to LA.

  • Black Americans are exposed to 56 percent more pollution

  • than they cause.

  • White Americans breathe 17 percent less air pollution

  • than they produce.

  • It gives a whole new meaning to the Black Lives Matter slogan

  • "I can't breathe."

  • We all rightly know the name of George Floyd,

  • who was murdered by the police.

  • But we should also know the name of Ella Kissi-Debrah.

  • Ella, a nine-year-old mixed-race girl from South East London,

  • was killed by a fatal asthma attack.

  • Evidence suggests this was caused

  • partly by the unlawful levels of air pollution near her home.

  • And it's not only urban areas

  • where Black lives are disproportionately under threat from climate change.

  • My parents' home country of Guyana

  • is one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth

  • to the effects of climate change.

  • So far, Guyana has contributed relatively little

  • to the climate emergency,

  • but it's one of the countries facing the most serious threats from it.

  • While the annual carbon dioxide emissions per head in the United States

  • is a staggering 16.5 metric tons,

  • in Guyana it's just 2.6.

  • It is a pattern repeated across the globe.

  • Those countries that have contributed least to the climate breakdown,

  • mainly in the global south,

  • will suffer the most from floods, droughts, and rising temperatures.

  • This is a pattern of suffering with a long history.

  • The exploitation of our planet's natural resources

  • has always been tied to the exploitation of people of color.

  • The logic of colonization

  • was to extract valuable resources from our planet through force,

  • paying no attention to its secondary effects.

  • The climate crisis is in a way colonialism's natural conclusion.

  • The solution is to build a new coalition

  • made up of all the groups most affected by this emergency:

  • Black people in American cities

  • who are already protesting that they cannot breathe;

  • people of color in Guyana watching sea levels rise

  • to the point where many of their homes become uninhabitable;

  • young people in places like Tottenham, London,

  • afraid of the world that they will grow old in;

  • and progressive allies from all nations,

  • of all races, religions, creeds and ages on their side,

  • all demanding recognition

  • that climate justice is linked to racial justice, social justice

  • and intergenerational justice too.

  • And let me say something about how we build this new movement

  • and what it must look like.

  • First, we need a recognition

  • that the climate movement is not only about protecting the planet.

  • It is primarily about caring for the people who live on the planet.

  • Globally as well as nationally,

  • we need to recognize structural imbalances and inequalities.

  • A radical green recovery plan should provide jobs to the people

  • who've been disenfranchised for centuries,

  • new jobs planting trees, insulating buildings

  • and working on green technologies.

  • We cannot tackle the climate crisis without addressing racial inequalities.

  • And we cannot solve racial inequalities without fixing the economic system.

  • The new deal the economy needs is not only green,

  • it's green and Black.

  • Second, we need more Black leaders.

  • It cannot be right in 2020

  • that almost all the leading climate change activists we recognize are white.

  • At Davos this year,

  • five young female members of the Fridays for Future movement

  • came together to give a press conference at the World Economic Forum.

  • This is a picture the Associated Press put out.

  • Here is the original image.

  • As the Ugandan activist, Vanessa Nakate, herself put it afterwards,

  • "You didn't just erase a photo, you erased a continent."

  • We need to look at who is being cropped out

  • of leadership positions in environmental organizations too.

  • People of color makeup around 40 percent of the United States population.

  • So why is it a University of Michigan study

  • found that the percentage of minorities in leadership positions

  • in US environmental organizations is less than 12 percent?

  • Global organizations should consider

  • moving their headquarters to the global south

  • and urban areas that are most affected by the climate emergency.

  • There should be new scholarships and bursaries in environmental science

  • for people of color.

  • Educate yourself.

  • Join great movements that recognize the links between climate and race.

  • To name a few,

  • the Black Environment Network and Wretched of the Earth.

  • And finally,

  • racial injustice and climate injustice are both rooted in the evil notion

  • that some lives are more important than others.

  • If you march to say Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis, London or Sydney,

  • please also march for the Black lives on the Caribbean island of Haiti

  • as its children are displaced by storms.

  • Please also march for the Black lives being lost in Darfur,

  • the first climate change conflict.

  • And please also march for the Indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest,

  • as Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro weakens its protections.

  • If we are serious about protecting Black lives in the Global South

  • as well as the north,

  • we need to strengthen international laws.

  • We need a way to apply international criminal laws,

  • like war crimes or crimes against humanity, to the planet.

  • We need a new international law of ecocide

  • to criminalize the willful and widespread destruction of the environment,

  • a law that criminalizes the most severe crimes against nature itself,

  • even for acts don't involve direct human suffering.

  • Economics, race and class

  • are at the center of today's political struggles.

  • The Black Lives Matter movement needs to wake up to climate injustices

  • just as the climate movement

  • must make every effort to include the reality of people of color.

  • Young Black boys growing up in single-parent households in Tottenham

  • won't have the opportunities I had

  • in a world ravaged by climate chaos.

  • My distant cousins and relatives growing up in Guyana

  • won't have a future if their homes are drowning under water.

  • Now is the time for Black and climate movements

  • to come together unequivocally and say, "We can't breathe."

  • Thank you very much.

Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs

Subtitles and keywords

B1 INT climate black color guyana climate change movement

Climate justice can't happen without racial justice | David Lammy

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    林宜悉   posted on 2020/10/28
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