In one month activists and world leaders will converge on Paris for the COP21 climate talks. The summit is a crucial moment for the global community and even more so for frontline communities who experience the worst effects of climate change. It's critical that these communities are front and center during the Paris talks to push for an international response to humanity's greatest challenge. Click here to help send young activists from frontline communities to Paris.
I've never cared for the use of hyperbole to get a point across. But I am absolutely certain that the COP21 climate talks one month from now in Paris is a make or break moment for our climate, our planet and all its inhabitants. If this conference ends without a unified, global strategy to address and resist climate change, the consequences will be perilous. This is especially true for frontline communities of color who experience the worst effects of climate change.
Just this week Catholic bishops from around the world called on world leaders to emerge from Paris with a "comprehensive and transformational agreement supported by all based on principles of solidarity, justice and participation."1 They went on to say that a successful agreement must be "just and legally binding, link climate change to social injustice and exclusion and includes special concern for the poor and most vulnerable."
Activist Terry Odendahl recently compounded the important role young folks play saying, "It's clear that if we want change, we need not to only watch and listen to young people, but also embrace and support them to help create the change our planet needs. If the leaders at COP21 in Paris don't get this message, they are simply missing the boat."2 That's why we are partnering with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice to bring American youth that represent frontline communities of color to Paris. Will you chip in whatever you can to help frontline communities be front and center in Paris?
It costs $1,700 to bring one young frontline activist to Paris for the entire two week climate talks, which includes travel, housing and food. About 200,000 of you have expressed interest this important campaign, if each of us donated just 10 cents we could send a whole delegation of young activists to Paris. But not everyone can donate so:
- If one percent of this list (2,000) gave $10, we could still send 10 activists to Paris;
- If 500 of us gave $35 we could send 10 activists to Paris; and
- If just 100 (less than 1/2 of 1 percent) of us can donate $100, we can send 10 amazing young activists to Paris to represent an entire generation of young Americans, and bring home a climate deal we all need.
My mother was a professor at the Historically Black College/University (HBCU) Howard University in D.C. for many years. Many young activists who want to get to Paris attend HBCUs like Howard and come from frontline communities, so this campaign was already very personal for me. But when I read some of these student leaders' testimonies, I knew we had to get them to Paris.
Tiara Gray is studying at Dillard University to become a pediatric neurologist. She began experiencing crippling headaches two years and believes they are due to living in a community that is exposed to toxic air pollutants. In her words, "It is very important for me to be able to attend the COP 21 conference to raise awareness about the negative impact that the environment has on our communities and people of color. I look forward to working with other students and also gain an international perspective on the environment and and the negative impacts climate change has around the world."
Many other students and young activists have written similar testimonials.3 While in Paris, these activists will have the chance to meet other activists from frontline communities around the world. So they wont just be representing America, but joining a global coalition of young frontline activists to develop a global strategy of climate resistance and resiliency for frontline communities around the world. But without your help these young people simply can't make the trip.
Preeminent Environmental Justice scholar, Dr. Robert Bullard made an excellent case for why students from HBCUs must be front and center in Paris: "More than 80 percent of HBCUs are found in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic regions of the United States -- regions of the country where intense hurricanes, drought, heatwaves, flooding and other climate-sensitive hazards are commonplace. Many southern communities where HBCUs are located and where they draw the vast majority of their students are at ground zero in the fight for climate justice."4
I couldn't agree more with Dr. Bullard and many others who agree that the participation of young activists is essential to pushing for an effective global climate agreement. It would be such a shame if they're unable to represent their communities and build a larger global strategy for frontline climate resistance. Please click here to chip in whatever you can to ensure the frontlines are front and center in Paris.
Thanks for all you do,
Anthony for Environmental Action
1. Roewe, Brian. World Bishops Appeal to COP21 Delegates for "Just and Legally Binding" Climate Deal. National Catholic Reporter. October 26, 2015.
2. Odendahl, Terry. Young People Hold the Key to Mobiizing Climate Action. EcoWatch. October 26, 2015.
3. Reflections Before the COP21 Experience: HBCU Students on the Road to Paris
4. Dr. Robert Bullard: Why HBCUs Must Lead on Climate Justice