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by Louise Wilson
03 November 2021
BAME communities must be given seat at the climate table

BAME communities must be given seat at the climate table

The just transition minister must ensure diverse voices are in the room as Scotland seeks to tackle the climate crisis, a former staffer of the New York mayor’s office has said.

Speaking at the Holyrood COP26 fringe, Lolita Jackson said Richard Lochhead had the opportunity to include more people from the start given his newly created role.

She said it was important to bring different viewpoints into policy decisions, adding that: “The voices of people most affected by climate are often not heard.”

This was echoed by the two other speakers on the panel, Professor Sir Geoff Palmer and CEMVO Scotland’s Cornell Hanxomphou.

The three were taking part in a discussion on ‘BAME voices and the climate crisis’, chaired by Viana Maya.

Sir Geoff highlighted the links between colonialism and climate change, such as the removal of forests in the Caribbean to make room for sugar cane and coffee plantations. He said: “We cannot change the past, but we can change the consequences of the past.”

He called for more equal education to tackle inequalities and for organisations to set targets to improve BAME representation. He added: “If you want to improve your BME representation, you must in fact set outcomes. It’s pointless if you just have an equality officer and think that ticks the box.”

And Hanxomphou said it was important not to just consult with BAME communities, but ensure they have a space at the table. On community buy-in to climate action, he added that it was important to show people the connections between their communities and the wider conservation.

He said: “A lot of communities around Glasgow and around Scotland… will be given lump sums to better their communities, whether than be putting solar panels on the roofs of community centres, community gardens… That’s a good way of getting people starting to be involved, and then they see it’s a much bigger movement.”

He also urged governments to reconsider their migration policies in light of climate change, given one of the biggest impacts globally will be “forced migration because of climate disaster”.

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