Stand Up to Racism! Climate #RefugeesWelcome #BlackLivesMatter

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We joined a lively demonstration to mark UN anti-racism day on March 19 to stand in solidarity against attempts to divide our communities. We wanted to support the aim of the march to oppose the treatment of refugees in Europe and the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes. Like others attending, we say Black Lives Matter and Yes to Diversity!

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Climate change creates refugees. We’ve known that for some time. The people who escaped the genocide in Darfur were climate refugees  and when the inhabitants of low-lying states like Kiribati have to evacuate en-masse, they, too will be climate refugees.

But in recent months, this fact, like many others, has been brought forcefully home to us by the Syrian migration crisis. Over the past few months, studies have suggested that the 2011 Syrian crisis was driven in part by a number of climate change-induced droughts. It received media coverage when mentioned by Charlotte Church  and Prince Charles but was perhaps most vividly and concisely expressed in Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche’s cartoon, ‘Syria’s Climate Conflict’.

Climate Justice means that #BlackLivesMatter. We need to remind ourselves of the words of Bill McKibben that, “A loud movement is, of necessity, a big movement – and this fossil-fuel resistance draws from every corner of our society. It finds powerful leadership from the environmental-justice community, the poor people, often in communities of color, who have suffered most directly under the reign of fossil fuel.”

Black people in our country and other wealthy countries are more likely to live in fuel poverty, more likely experience impacts of air pollution and more likely to be harmed by fossil fuel infrastructure.

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We travelled down from Huddersfield in a coach organised by local anti-racism campaigners in Bradford, Dewsbury and Huddersfield. We’d like to thank those people for their efforts in arranging the transport. The march gathered outside the BBC in Portland Place and made its way towards a final rally in Trafalgar Square. Speakers included Diane Abbot, poet Michael Rosen, actress Vanessa Redgrave and Amyna, a woman from Mosul, Iraq. Trade Unionists, socialists, environmentalists and human rights campaigners came together to stand in solidarity with minorities and refugees in a positive and colourful demonstration. Further coverage of the demonstration (including photos).

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It was fitting that campaigners were handing out fliers for the Campaign Against Climate Change’s ‘Going Backwards’ demonstration on 8 May.  The fliers said:

We stand with refugees today

            We stand with future generations.

            We demand action on climate change.

The UK must take its share of responsibility for the needs of today’s refugees… and for keeping families around the world safe from becoming the refugees of tomorrow.

On May 8th, people will march backwards down Whitehall to protest against the Government’s backtracking on climate change- by undermining renewable energy and energy efficiency, rolling out fracking, giving tax breaks for fossil fuels and encouraging carbon-intensive transport through road building and airport expansion. How can we have climate justice and prevent future climate refugees if we fail to meet national or international targets to reduce emissions?

Climate Justice means preventing future refugee crises through keeping fossil fuels in the ground and standing in solidarity with people on the move as a result of climate change. It cannot take place without also addressing inequalities and racism in our own societies. As climate impacts increase, scapegoating of minorities needs to be resisted and a positive alternative of social and environmental justice needs to be clearly expressed.

The climate crisis cannot be properly understood or solved without understanding inequality and injustice. Inequality and injustice –between nations and within nations- cannot now be properly understood or solved without understanding the climate crisis.

“Maybe climate change isn’t just a crisis. Maybe it’s the best chance we’re ever going to get to create a better world.” Naomi Klein.

 

 

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