NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Director Travels to Warsaw

From November 11-22, thousands  of people, including heads of states, civil society representatives, and members of the media, will gather in Warsaw, Poland for the19th  United Nations Framework  Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (a.k.a. “COP 19”), where nations meet and deliberate in order to establish agreements to curb practices that contribute to climate change, as well as decide on the generation and distribution of funding for adapting to climate change. The NAACP has been represented at COP 15(Copenhagen), 16 (Cancun), 17(Durban), and 18(Doha).  This year, Katherine Egland, NAACP National Board Member and Chair of the Environmental and Climate Justice Board Committee and Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the Environmental and Climate Justice Program, will represent the NAACP.

Communities of color and low income communities in the US are impacted by both the drivers and the impacts of climate change. Yet, often in these negotiations one hears this dichotomy of rich polluting nations in the North and impacted nations in the Global South. As much as that framing is largely true, as we engage in the climate talks next week, our aim is to highlight the impacts of both the drivers and impacts of climate change on communities in the United States and to link with our brothers and sisters in the Global South for joint advocacy to reduce the emission of the largest polluters and to make sure there is equitable finance for the impacts for countries and communities that are impacted by excesses of wealthy nations.

In communities in the US, we have communities like Four Corners in New Mexico, a largely indigenous community where there are 4 coal fired power plants within a 50 mile radius of the Navajo communities that live there. We have the Cesar Chavez high school, a predominantly African American and Latino school in Houston Texas that is nestled next to an oil refinery that is one of 10 oil refineries within a ten mile radius of the school and numerous other communities in similar circumstances because the toxic facilities that contribute to our greenhouse gas burden also spew co-pollutants like mercury arsenic and lead are disproportionately located in communities of color and low income communities.

At the same time, these are the same communities that suffer disparate impacts from the results of climate change. Due to economic, social and political vulnerabilities communities of color and low income communities are more devastated by disasters due to having more homes in the flood plains, poorer housing stock, less disaster infrastructure, etc. Already communities of color and low income communities are in food deserts where they are less likely to have access to nutritious and affordable foods and this will only worsen in the face of agricultural yields driven by climate change.  Sea level rise is already impacting communities via storm surge and will be displacing Inuit communities in Kivalina Island in Alaska and low income communities in Thibodaux, Louisiana within 20 years and beyond.

Therefore, we will be looking to the US to make aggressive commitments to emissions reductions, to commit to a transition to energy efficiency and clean energies, and to provide equitable finance for communities and cultures that are already being inundated by disaster, sea level rise and shifts in agricultural yields and stand to face even more.

NAACP COP19 activities will include: 

  • Daily Blog Posts live from COP 19 (as well as tweets and FB posts)
  • Participation in US Climate Action Network Press Conferences
  • Participation in Gender and Climate Change Roundtable
  • Strategy Meeting with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
  • Strategy Meeting with International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit
  • Strategy Meeting with Global Eco-Village Network
  • POST Event Briefing in Washington,