UKYCC during Black History Month 2017

“There is a lot more that the environmental movement can be doing in becoming more intersectional”

Amidst the chaos of 2017’s politics, the year also marked a momentous occasion. October 2017 is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK. To join in with the celebrations, the UK Youth Climate Coalition have dedicated a blog series to young, Black voices in the environmental movement.

As we previously stated, we are the UK youth. However, there is a lot more that the environmental movement can be doing in becoming more intersectional and diverse. With a fivefold rise in race-hate complaints (and this is just those reported) since Brexit, the environmental movement needs to become more intersectional and representative.

In 2013, three-quarters of 11 to 16-year-olds in Britain said they were worried about how global warming would change the world. Four years later, some of those school children could be our supporters, maybe even our members. With one in seven millennials, globally, identifying as activists, we must make sure that all stories of activism within the green movement are told.

“We must remind ourselves that BAME lives have been lost and are still suffering…”

Climate change is rapidly being seen as the greatest threat to national security, as seen from the Pew Research Center’s recent report. And sadly, it is more often than not those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, those without education, those with different capabilities and so on who suffer from catastrophic climate change. And these issues are intersectional. Non-natives, BAME communities, LGBTQIA groups and many more will continue to face adverse effects because the above issues affect them.

We cannot say for sure what the ethnicity demographics are for UK youths. However, the most up to date and comprehensive statistics by the Office for National Statistics show that in 2011, 80 per cent of the UK population was white, with 3.4 per cent being Black groups. However, with the centralisation of England’s capital, London, it is clear that these statistics are difficult to explore in reflecting certain movements. Research by the Trust for London found that 41 per cent of Londoners are BAME. Inner London also has a higher average number of 20 to 29-year-olds than the rest of England. However, it must be said that the need for representation in the green movement is not purely for political reasons of ‘centralisation’. Rather, we must remind ourselves that BAME lives have been lost and are still suffering from the recent (and on-going) catastrophes; whether it be the drought in Somalia or the storm across the Caribbean- the case studies are never ending.

“The British movement is a bit stuck in its ways”

In 2015, Suzanne Khaliwal wrote: “At the last UK climate march people of colour like myself were poorly represented, if not invisible…the international climate movement is a dynamic, multicultural, multi-class and intergenerational force… It’s just the British movement that is a bit, shall we say, stuck in its ways.” Keeping this sentiment in mind, UKYCC hopes that this blog series will spark a much-needed and long-awaited debate on the intersectionality of the climate movement. If you have an experience within the movement that you would like to share, please do get in touch here.


Written by Grace Newton

Grace is Communications Officer for UKYCC and studied in the Black Studies Department of SUNY New Paltz