Climate change blamed on colonialism and slavery by Greenpeace UK

A Greenpeace UK report says the climate crisis is a result of the legacy of systemic racism set about by colonialism

Published

People of colour are now "disproportionately losing their lives and livelihoods" as a result of the climate emergency, the report says.

It claims colonialism "established a model through which the air and lands of the global south have been used as places to dump waste the global north does not want".

“The environmental emergency is the legacy of colonialism,” the report adds.

It also says these inequalities are visible in the UK, as almost half of all waste-burning incinerators are in areas with high populations of people of colour.

Climate change has been attributed to colonialism
Climate change has been attributed to colonialism

Black people are said to be more likely to breathe illegal levels of air pollution in London.

And black people in England are nearly four times as likely as white people to have no outdoor space access, research finds.

A widespread lack of awareness of these findings is also highlighted by YouGov polling, published alongside the report.

Of those polled, 35 percent believed people of colour were no more likely to live close to a waste incinerator.

The research was put together by Greenpeace UK
The research was put together by Greenpeace UK

There is no difference in exposure to air pollution between white people and people of colour in London, according to 55 percent of respondents.

And 47 percent believed there were no significant differences between ethnic groups in access to green outdoor spaces.

Greenpeace UK said: “We argue that the outcomes of the environmental emergency cannot be understood without reference to the history of British and European colonialism, which set in motion a global model for racialised resource extraction from people of colour.”

Executive director Pat Venditti described the issues as “two sides of the same coin”.

He said: “This is why it’s absolutely vital that, as a campaigning organisation, we help to shed light on the links between racism and environmental harm and make it a central pillar of our work.

“As a predominantly white organisation located in the global north Greenpeace UK recognises that it still has a lot of learning to do.

"But we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure we get it right in future.”