Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change Supports a Just, Fair, and Equitable Climate Program

COPENHAGEN – As delegates from around the world gather in Copenhagen for the UN climate conference, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change (CEAC) today reiterated a set of principles for consideration as nations seek to come to agreement on a global pact to mitigate climate change.

The CEAC believes that just and responsible climate change action should achieve the following goals:

– Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous climate change and as a result to improve overall air quality and public health;

– Shift America away from an over reliance on fossil fuels to a clean energy economy;

-Recognize and minimize any adverse economic impacts resulting from regulating dangerous green house gases; and

– Ensure that vulnerable communities are not disproportionately impacted by climate change mitigation policies.

“There is a fierce urgency in the African American community with regard to climate change and its effects,” said Carolyn Green, Chair of the CEAC Delegation attending COP15. “Our polling shows that large majorities of African Americans believe global warming is a serious problem and a threat to their own communities, and they want government to do something to reverse it. We hope that the United States continues to fully embrace this extraordinary opportunity to lead the world in crafting a just global climate policy.”

A Joint Center survey of African Americans conducted earlier this year found that a majority of African Americans (54 percent) characterize global warming as a major problem, with another 24 percent thinking it a moderate problem. A previous poll found that 81 percent of African Americans believe that the federal government should take strong action to deal with global warming, and 72 percent favor legislative action to implement the goals of the Kyoto treaty on climate change. The surveys showed that while African Americans do not believe dealing with global warming will be cost-free; they do believe that failing to deal with global warming will be more costly.

“Compared with the general United States population, African American communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, in terms of health impacts, economic effects, and quality of life issues,” said Green. “These disproportionate effects are even more stark when comparing the nations of Africa to the rest of the world. The COP15 presents a critical opportunity to ensure a just, fair, and equitable solution for communities of color in the United States and throughout the world.”

The Joint Center and the CEAC are continuing to monitor the opinions of communities of color on these important climate issues, and will seek to work with the United States government in its efforts to achieve a just worldwide climate agreement.

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