The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated incident, but the latest marker in a tragic legacy of colonialism and structural racism that continues to infect our institutions, our society, and our planet.
This painful moment ignited a powerful movement — and sparked urgent demands for racial justice across the United States and around the world, fueled by righteous rage, peaceful protests, and a sincere belief in the need for real reform.
We stand in solidarity with the courageous women and men taking to the streets, expressing outrage, crying out for change. We urge them to keep doing so safely, peacefully, and fully aware of the public health challenges posed by COVID-19.
Yet we, as leaders of the largest cities in the world, refuse to limit our response to statements of support. We are determined to act. We are committed to justice and equity as ideas, ideals, and integral cornerstones of our agendas for inclusive climate action, stronger public health, a fair playing field, and a more prosperous society for all, no matter where you live, what you look like, or where you were born.
We have an immense opportunity in front of us, because equity has always been a part of our fight for clean air, clean water, clean energy, lower emissions, and a more sustainable future. We can only solve the climate crisis by viewing it through a lens of racial justice, rooting our responses in anti-racism, and working to eradicate social injustices everywhere.
At the heart of our vision for a Global Green New Deal are precisely these issues — and the communities hardest hit by the ill effects of climate change. Low-income families, Black communities, and communities of color in North America; residents of fast-growing cities in Africa and Asia; migrants, refugees, and indigenous people across the globe — far too often, these are the families and citizens who bear the biggest burdens of environmental degradation, poor air quality, climate-driven disasters, floods and wildfires, and greenhouse gas pollution.
We must address these systemic, fundamental challenges if we wish to truly, comprehensively, and proactively tackle the climate crisis — and we are.
As the leaders of the C40 network, our efforts and solutions are and must continue to be driven by our promise of equity and inclusion. Cities in the Global South make up more than half of our membership, and the voices of mayors in all regions are strong and equal on the Steering Committee. C40’s Inclusive Climate Action and Deadline 2020 Programmes support cities to develop climate action plans that address these matters head-on. Our leadership knows that any push for climate justice must devote equal attention to issues of both adaptation and mitigation.
But there is much more work to be done. As an organization and as individual cities, C40 will look deeply at how we operate, prioritize equity in everything we do, and explore how we can expand our contribution 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.