C40 Statement on Racial Justice
The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has rightly provoked outrage across the world. Tragically, this is not an isolated incident, but part of a global legacy of colonialism and systemic anti-Black racism that continues to exist throughout the world today.
As C40 Chair, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti made clear, we stand in solidarity with those expressing outrage and demanding action: “[George Floyd] was killed when he should not have been. He was murdered, in cold blood, in front of this nation….But as we know far too well, he was far from the first.....each time this happens, we have to speak clearly. We have to stop in these moments, as painful as they are, to right the wrongs which aren’t just part of our history, but that exist here in our present.”
The struggle for racial justice is inextricably linked to the climate crisis. One cannot be addressed if the other is left unchecked. Climate action must be rooted in anti-racism, and must be committed to eradicating social injustices everywhere. Whether looking at the experiences of communities in predominantly Black neighbourhoods in North America, migrants and refugees across the world, or residents of fast-growing cities in Africa, it is most often people of colour who bear the biggest burdens of environmental degradation, climate disasters, and greenhouse gas pollution. Addressing these systemic, fundamental injustices are integral to tackling the climate crisis.
As a global organization, led by mayors, we work on climate not just from a scientific perspective, but, always deeply rooted in the perspective of equity and inclusion. Cities from the Global South make up more than half of C40’s membership, and the voices of our African, Asian and Latin American mayors are strong and equal on our Steering Committee. We are proud that our work supporting cities to develop climate action plans, through our Inclusive Climate Action and Deadline 2020 Programmes, ensures they address issues of equity and inclusion. For example, in 2018, more than 30 of our mayors signed an Equity Pledge, committing to ensure all residents – especially the most vulnerable – benefit equitably from climate action and policies in their cities.
But there is much more work to be done. Going forward, every facet of our work will be seen through the lens of racial equity. Our staff globally are diverse – one of our greatest strengths as an organisation – but we are taking steps to improve this even further in our office locations that do not reflect this diversity. We are launching organisational-wide training to ensure that C40 becomes free from bias and discrimination and that we are actively tackling inequity in the workplace. We have convened an internal working group, led by our Africa Regional Director, to create a safe place where staff members can help us to build an organization that promotes inclusion and is more effectively anti-racist.
C40 is committed to looking deeply at how we operate and the contribution we can make to dismantling the systems that perpetuate both racial and climate injustice. We in the climate movement must actively listen to, learn from, and lift up those voices who have long been marginalized or oppressed, and commit to working alongside them to build a better world. The future we want can only be possible if we stand up for justice and the basic human rights of all people – and C40 is committed to doing just that.