COPENHAGEN, and WASHINGTON, D.C. — Temperatures are rising at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as negotiators scuffle to reach a consensus before heads of state arrive later this week. Many African American environmental justice NGO representatives balance support for the global south and their own communities back home as the focus turns to President Obama’s speech this coming Friday. “We want to support our President, and certainly look forward to his speech,” said Felicia M. Davis an environmental activist attending the conference representing Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC) and Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR).
“The situation demands that America steps forward to lead the way by taking bold steps to reduce emissions and to usher in an era of equity in global agreements. Our sisters and brothers in the global south and global north are counting on us.”
Representatives from developing nations believe the industrialized world is not doing enough to reduce pollution. They want developed nations to commit to significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions along with the allocation of billions of dollars to poor countries.
“Developed countries created the climate crisis as they became wealthy and they have the financial resources to tackle it,” Honorable Awudu Mbaya Cyrpian, executive president, Pan African Parliamentarians Network on Climate Change said.
During a press conference last week the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, a coalition of organizations in 43 African countries, presented a letter for delivery to the Obama administration. The letter implores President Obama to consider the impacts of a 2 degree temperature rise on Africa, describing this target as a death sentence for millions of Africans.
“We join with Africa in an appeal for a fair, ambitious, and binding agreement,” said Davis, who accepted the letter on behalf of EJCC and BWR.
On Monday the negotiations hit a snag after African nations accused rich countries of reneging on promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions and walked out of the negotiations. Delegates from nearly 130 developing countries, including Brazil, India, and South Africa followed the Africans in the walk-out. Talks resumed on Tuesday.
“Women in rural Africa and India walk miles to get water; they have no cars. They are not polluting the world, yet their crops are failing due to pollution caused by luxury lifestyles in developed nations,” said Letetia Daniels Jackson president, Tandeka, LLC and member of BWR.
Representatives from EJCC and BWR have been in Copenhagen for over a week working to make sure underserved communities and women of color are properly embedded in any new climate protocol.
Nia Robinson, director of EJCC commented from the nation’s capitol, “EJCC had a large presence at the conference to make sure that principles of environmental justice are included in the final document. We want people to see climate change for what it is, a human rights issue,” Robinson, who traveled to Poland, Montreal and Bali for earlier conferences continues, “It disproportionately affects people of color.”
In addition to attending work sessions, side events, and private meetings with high level officials, the group joined over 100,000 people from around the world in a rally and march in support of a legally binding global agreement on emissions cuts. EJCC youth created and participated in a number of actions garnering international media attention.
On Wednesday Dec. 16, BWR and EJCC will host a roundtable conversation with Black women and women of the Global South from 8-10pm at the Greenlantic House in Copenhagen.
The Black Women’s Roundtable is an intergenerational civic engagement network of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The BWR Healthy, Wealthy & Wise Policy Forum Series is a national roundtable tour designed to provide women with strategies and tools to address critical issues confronting Black women and girls. This past July BWR submitted key policy recommendations on Climate change to Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to the President for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
“We advised the administration that BWR is extremely concerned about the impact of U.S. climate policy upon women globally – especially impacts in developing regions where women are primary food producers whose livelihoods are threatened by changing climates,” stated Melanie L. Campbell, executive director of The National Coalition and convener of BWR.
A leader in domestic climate action, EJCC is a national coalition of over thirty environmental and climate justice, advocacy, faith-based and other social justice organizations. The nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots organization is also committed to informing youth of color about the issue of global warming and climate justice.
For more information visit www.ncbcp.org or .