'Environmental racism has become a key issue for climate campaigners'
Vivel Lehal, Haringey Stand Up To Racism
- Credit: Jane Leggett
Racism takes many forms. The pandemic has shown us that even in the NHS Black, Asian and minority staff have disproportionately died or contracted Covid-19 because of being in the riskiest roles with least access to PPE.
We are all at risk from the effects of climate change, but, even here racism has an impact. Environmental racism has become a key issue for climate campaigners in recognition of the impact of decades of carbon emissions from advanced economies being felt across the Global South.
Two examples. In Mauritius, severe drought has led the UN to warn of the first major “climate famine”. Across the Indian Ocean in Kerala in South India excessive monsoon rains have caused devastating floods for each of the last four years.
We are seeing a local example of environmental racism in the North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA) proposal to build a new incinerator in Edmonton. This new incinerator will burn 700,000 tonnes of rubbish per year for, at least, 25 years. Burning waste releases toxic particulates – a proven threat to public health.
It will cost £1.2 billion, of our money, just to build. The incinerator will be located in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in London, which is home to a high proportion of people from black, Asian and other ethnic minorities. Their health will be sacrificed for the flawed practice of burning waste, much of which is recyclable.
A vibrant campaign of petitions, demonstrations and lobbying has united local residents, environmental activists, Black Lives Matter and other anti-racists with trade unions in opposition to the incinerator.
Stand up to Racism groups across North East London have supported the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now (STEIN) campaign. It is a welcome development that Haringey Council has called for a pause and review of the project – under pressure from the Stop the Edmonton incinerator campaign. But, the other six councils that make up the NLWA are set to proceed.
Haringey Stand up to Racism will continue to support STEIN’s call to Stop the Burn. For more go to stop-edmonton-incinerator.org/
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Vivek Lehal is secretary at Haringey Stand up to Racism.