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Time for the Black and the Green to come together

The changing environment affects us all yet Britain’s Black communities are not recognised in the debate. Lee Jasper says there are very good reasons why we should take a lead.

Sometimes environmental calamity can brutally reveal the global social and economic conditions faced by some of the world’s poorest nations and communities.

Hurricane Katrina, flooding in Bangladesh, drought and starvation in Africa, deforestation of the Amazon rain forest all demonstrate the political reality that it the worlds poorest nations who bear the brunt of our climate crisis.

Climate change affects us all, and yet there is a strong perception that Britain’s black communities are disengaged from the debate.

We are largely uniformed as to the realities of the negative impact of climate change on communities throughout the rest of the world. Yet this issue represents the most serious threat to face the world in all of human history.

Lee Jasper

I challenge Green campaigners to do more to engage our communities.

Far to often this issue is wrongly seen as a white middle class issue and the Green movement can be internationally altruistic whilst being paternalistic in their campaign operations here UK.

There is a positive alliance to be had between Green campaigners and Britain’s black communities, however it will need increased representation, investment and involvement from the UK environmental movement.

As the UN summit on Climate Change gets underway in Copenhagen it is important that we become fully engaged in a debate that is fundamental to our continued existence.

Black communities here in the UK need to lead the debate on behalf of those without voice in our countries of origin from around the world.

A rise in the earth’s temperature and sea levels will lead to the reshaping of the worlds geography, economies and the displacement of billions of peoples.

This will unleash fundamental and irreversible changes in the world’s weather patterns, resulting in devastating consequences for us all. The worrying thing is the weather has already started to change.

Some of the smaller islands including some in the Caribbean could disappear completely. For every one degree that the Caribbean sea heats up, there is a consequent doubling of the intensity of hurricanes causing billions of dollars worth of damage.

In addition, such islands can expect increased levels of flash flooding, severe beach erosion, the continued degradation of coral reefs, decline in local fishing, agricultural industries and tourism. All of which adds up to a nightmare scenario for Caribbean nations.

Africa suffers enormously with severe droughts and unexpected flash flooding resulting in starvation of whole populations.

The lack of clean water results in killing more children than HIV and Aids, malaria and measles combined accounting for 28% of child deaths worldwide, 4,000 children under five dying each day from preventable diseases such as diarrhea diseases alone.

People living precariously on the edge of existence can be wiped out by the smallest changes to their environment. The fact that we can expect to see significant changes in rainfall patterns across the continent will result in whole communities and cultures being affected.

Droughts are often synonymous with famines; many more millions will be facing the nightmare of severe drought and starvation as the world temperatures continues to increase.

That’s why what happens at this weeks UN summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen is of concern to every single black person in the UK as well as the entire human race.

Failure to cap global warming and press for reductions in CO2 levels will result in environmental catastrophe of monumental proportions.

When tragedy strikes in our countries of origin then we respond by sending money home to support our families.

Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and other nations have formed alliance to demand that rich polluting countries pay them compensation to offset the damage caused to these nations by global warming.

Africa produces a fraction only a tiny 3.6% of the world’s carbon omissions and yet Africans are being told that they should reign in economic development in order to prevent any future increases.

While the western nations responsible for the majority of carbon increases are unwilling to take the necessary action to seriously cut their own CO2 emissions.

That is why we should be both campaigning for global action and actively supporting African the developing world’s claims for compensation.

The dilemma of developing countries seeking to industrialise and build transport systems to reduce poverty whilst being pressured by the west to reduce their carbon emission illustrates the nature of environmental and economic racism on a global scale.

The most polluting and wealthy nations are dragging their feet whilst demanding poorer nations already suffering the severe effects of climate change take action.

Lord Stern, the UK’s leading expert in this area, has recently warned that Copenhagen represents “the last chance to save the world.”

What we need and President Obama ought to drive through is a legally binding agreement forcing countries to reduce emissions.

Previous international initiatives such as Kyoto failed precisely because the recommendations were voluntary.

The fact is the economics of effective climate change require a fundamental restructure of western economies and a lowering of consumption. They are unlikely to do so without being compelled to do so.

We all have to learn to live with less, a lot less if we are to stand any chance of reversing the earth’s environmental decline.

Failure to do so will result in the short term in black people in the UK being forced to send increasing amounts of money home to cope with economic decline worsened by environmental crisis.

In the medium term to long term monumental changes to our weather patterns and a global refugee crisis and will ultimately threaten human existence.

Failure at Copenhagen is something the world can’t afford.

That’s why black communities here in the UK should be paying very close attention to events in Copenhagen.

We send millions of pounds every week through remittances to our families back home supporting them to cope with the effects of envirormental disaster and climate change.

As the frequency of these crises increase then we will find ourselves struggling to find the money to send to our families.

Many of us are employed on low wages and climate change is set increase levels of poverty in our communities both at home and abroad. Rising unemployment here in the UK places more pressure on poor communities.

These are just some of the reasons why Copenhagen is so important. We should be fully involved in campaigning to pressure our Government to do more on this issue.

African leaders are calling on the West to pay compensation for the devastating effects of climate change on the world’s poorest continent.

We should be actively supporting that call alongside an agenda that promotes both aid and investment in clean technologies alongside sustainable food and water sources.

That’s why it is vital that the Green movement here in the UK begins to ensure that black people are involved and represented in both their leadership and membership.

The perception of the black community of green paternalism at home and missionary approach to the developing world to these issues must be challenged.

Black communities also need to ensure that they become more aware and get involved in leading campaigns locally and internationally.

The reality is that we live our lives in the west driven by a level of greed that is unsustainable. Our much pampered energy rich existence comes at a great cost to the planet and the poorer peoples of the earth.

We must begin to own this debate and not simply allow ourselves to be relegated to bystanders by well meaning green campaigners in West. The stakes are far too high and the cost too great for that.

Email: Lee-jasper@live.com

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