Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Black Lives Matter Activists Are Spot On
2016 Wednesday 7TH
by Morning Star in Editorial

DIRECT action by Black Lives Matter activists to shut down London City Airport showed both personal courage and selflessness derived from a keen understanding of climate change.

Their claim that the “climate crisis is a racist crisis” is very astute and draws together the two threads in order to demand drastic change on both.

The world’s worst polluters by population — Britain firmly among them — are all in the Global North. Meanwhile those nations that will be worst affected by rich countries’ emissions are all in the Global South.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region worst affected, with one list of the 10 countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change including seven African states.

Southern and south-east Asia are also in a precarious position. In Bangladesh 200,000 people a year are already displaced by river erosion.

And as glaciers melt and sea levels rise many island states will literally sink beneath the waves.

Almost a decade ago, UN refugee experts estimated that by the middle of the century 250 million people will have been forced to flee their homes by the effects of climate change.

It is not hard to work out why. Climate change causes extreme weather — droughts and deluges — which wreaks havoc on societies largely dependent on agriculture.

Yet the countries responsible for and with the means to arrest and mitigate the effects of climate change are largely rich and white.

The racial divide also appears within these countries too. City Airport was an apt choice for the activists’ protest, sited as it is in Newham, one of London’s poorest and most diverse boroughs.

Two-fifths of residents earn less than £20,000 a year, while the average passenger at City Airport is paid more than £90,000. For the convenience of the bankers and other City types just a short train ride away, tens of thousands suffer extreme air and noise pollution.

Nationwide, there is a similar story with private motor travel. Those in the poorest areas are least likely to own a car yet suffer most from pollution.

City Airport blights the local area, with big chunks of the former royal docks a post-industrial wasteland. Jobs promised when the airport was built in the 1980s never turned up.

Yet London Mayor Sadiq Khan has approved a massive expansion of City Airport, despite it failing every sensible test. A solid plan to close the airport and transform the local area with new homes, jobs and schools — drafted years ago by the New Economics Foundation and adopted by the Greens — remains ignored.

Expansion is entirely unnecessary — as it is at airports broadly — and entirely unconscionable if we are to get to grips with the climate crisis.

Just 15 per cent of the population take 70 per cent of the flights. We should not be building transport infrastructure for the few that has such catastrophic effects globally and locally.

Instead we must embark on a plan that can help secure climate justice worldwide and economic and social justice at home.

Strong investment in clean, safe renewables and transport can boost our economy, and should be coupled with action that ensures that our nation’s wealth is not amassed by a tiny few but distributed fairly among all of our communities.

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