BIPOC Leaders Work Together to Combat Climate Change

Minority communities are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change and faith leaders are trying to figure out how to address this.

The Presbyterian Church’s Office of Public Witness and The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, along with Christian Brooks and the Creation of Justice Ministries, a webinar was held in early March to address these issues.

“Our people stretch out for six parishes,” said panelist Bette Billiot, a member of the United Houma Nation, who lives in the lower Terrebonne Parish. “I’m committed to staying. I love this place. I love this land. Many of my family and community feel the same way. We’re not going anywhere” despite having to rebuild or save what’s left after each disaster, as reported by The Presbyterian Mission.

Billiot and other speakers also shared their experiences at and thoughts about the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, and related activities, such as a large march, both held late last year.

“For me, personally, I was honored to be asked to be there to represent our Indigenous people from Louisiana, from the Gulf south,” Billiot said. “My favorite part is always connecting with the global south and being able to see so many relatives, so many brothers and sisters across this nation that are going through the exact same situations that we are going (through) … maybe in different spaces, but it’s the same fight that you see in those other countries” and communities, so it’s good to meet those people and learn “how we can do things together.”

As communities around the world face various climate and environmental crises, the topic of climate reparations was raised.

Climate reparations are “an apology and an acknowledgement that what has been done to our communities is wrong. It is not aid,” said panelist Ibe Peniel, who is the policy engagement coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee’s Office of Public Policy and Advocacy.

“I see climate reparations included in every section: climate reparations as part of adaptation, climate reparations as part of mitigation, climate reparations as climate reparations itself,” Peniel said.

“Think about climate reparations as a solidarity piece,” Peniel said. “Think about working towards getting it done and addressing climate justice and environmental justice” as a way to practice your faith and your hope, realizing that “you have power to make change.”

The webinar closed with a call to action to support pertinent legislation, such as the Environmental Justice for All Act and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which includes a bill to establish a grant program to protect vulnerable mothers and babies from climate change.

“Climate change has a huge effect on maternal health,” Brooks said.You can watch the full discussion, on Facebook, here.

Source: Presbyterian Mission