Written by Sarah Huang
As we come to the final days of the climate negotiations here in Paris, you can hear and see the presence of voices of masses coming together asking for more than what is currently on the table. Well as of right now, there is language to hold the temperature increase below 2 degrees C and to make efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees C. But is 1.5 enough? On any given day you can hear the chant, “1.5 to stay alive”, calling for the climate agreement to set the limit to an increase of no more than 1.5 degrees C. But today, the chants and movement of people in Climate Generations was different. Instead today you could hear, “1.5 to stay alive, Black Lives Matter, We Can’t Breathe, We Gon Be All Right” as a group of young black and white individuals marched around with signs saying “My Life, My Fight” and other sign. And as the crowd marched around, I heard in the crowd, “Does this have anything to do with climate change?”. And to this person in the crowd, YES!
Black and brown bodies are disproportionately discriminated against in the effects of climate change. Black and brown bodies are made criminal to their very existence on this earth and are put into scenarios where their lives, experiences, and histories are delegitimized as elite, privileged, wealthy, and white majorities continue a saga of oppression. Because if we are truly honest with ourselves, the economic and political order that is built on the oppressive, imperialist, and colonialist history of most of these wealthy nations will only continue to oppress these people. But most importantly, what the Black Lives Matter movement brings to the climate justice fight, is the intentional oppression and discrimination placed on black and brown bodies as wealthy nations continue to deny their responsibility towards the destruction of environments and livelihoods.
It has been hard to hear the stories and experiences of individuals, families, and communities of indigenous peoples from all over the world as they open their hearts and their lives to strangers here at COP21. I have struggled as I try to understand how we can live in a system that continues to be ignorant of the pathways of destruction that targets communities of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities while silencing their experiences and voices. But as I hear these voices being raised in the climate spaces and throughout Paris during these past two weeks, I know that people are not dying in silence. So listen when groups and movements are aligning and to the voices saying that we can’t breathe in contaminated air and we won’t be silenced.