Putting the Spotlight on NAACP Communities at Climate Talks in Copenhagen

By NAACP Climate Justice Initiative Director Jacqueline Patterson

This December, thousands will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for the Conference of Parties # 15 (a.k.a. “COP”) at the UN Framework  Convention on Climate Change, where nations meet and deliberate in order to establish agreements to curb practices that contribute to climate change, as well as decide on the distribution of funding for adapting to climate change.

As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, communities of color are often disproportionately impacted by climate change. At the NAACP, we have an essential role to play in influencing the decisions being made at this meeting.

From December 7 through the 18th, I will be blogging daily from Copenhagen, explaining the process from the ground and putting the spotlight on those U.S. communities affected by climate change.  At the conference, our three primary objectives include:

1)      Ensuring that our stories, often silent or invisible are uplifted so that the world knows that the United States is also adversely affected by climate change. This is not just a problem for the developing world.

2)      Pressuring the US government to agree to aggressive targets for curbing harmful practices that advance climate change, and ensuring that resources for adapting to climate change are in the hands of the the communities most affected.

3)      Building partnerships with international grassroots organizations who share a similar situation of disproportionate impacts and a common aim in seeking justice from those in power who are often protecting the interests of corporations and enabling the excesses of the wealthy over upholding the human and civil rights of our communities.
Throughout the conference, this blog will profile stories from our communities to illustrate the disproportionate impact of climate change in the U.S. For the 12 days I’ll be in Copenhagen, I plan to highlight one NAACP community in the media surrounding the UNFCCC, at the meeting in Copenhagen and in this blog.

You may be surprised as to how many people in our country are impacted by climate change—and not always in the way you might expect:  toxic facilities, threatened homes, severe weather events, changing farming patterns, and cancer clusters are all results of this global problem.

Through these stories and our engagements in Copenhagen, we will give voice to U.S. communities of color this international meeting, in a space where we are often marginalized or not considered at all. From here, we will build on this work in subsequent events and in stateside advocacy with policy makers to keep up the pressure for justice, and upholding of human and civil rights for our communities in the face of the rapid advancement of climate change.

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