This morning London City airport was shut down. This was a Black Lives Matter action. Since then our phones have been ringing constantly, with requests to explain, and comment on the action.
“But how is this in any way linked to the last action on 5 August? Aren’t you moving away from the original narrative of deaths in police custody?” we’re being asked.
Today we are saying that the climate crisis is a racist crisis. On the one handBritain is the biggest contributor per capita to global temperature change. It is also one of the least vulnerable to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, seven of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa.
We’re not saying that climate change affects only black people. However, it is communities in the global south that bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change, whether physical – floods, desertification, increased water scarcity and tornadoes – or political: conflict and racist borders. While a tiny elite can fly to and from London City airport, sometimes as a daily commute, this year alone 3,176 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, trying to reach safety on the shores of Europe.
Why are communities like east London’s Newham, where 40% of the population survive on £20,000 or less, hosting airports such as London City, where passengers earn on average £114,000 a year? When we say black lives matter, we mean all black lives, and that includes the lives of those who live in proximity to airports, to power plants, to the busiest of roads, and whose children grow up with asthma, and skin conditions exacerbated by air pollution. Black British Africans are 28% more likely than their white counterparts to be exposed to air pollution.