‘Brits are largely unaware that climate change disproportionately affects black, Asian and Arab people’

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BRITS are largely unaware that climate change disproportionately affects black, Asian and Arab people, new poll by Christian Aid reveals.

Only a third of British adults (33%) recognise how disproportionately climate change affects people across the world, despite evidence that the poorest people in Africa, Asia and Latin America, along with small island states, are bearing the brunt of climate crisis.

Patrick Watt, Christian Aid’s Director of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns, commented on the research: “The changes we have experienced in the UK’s weather, with more flooding, a very dry spring and now some exceptionally high temperatures is a useful reminder that climate change is a global phenomenon that affects us all.

“But while many people here celebrate the hotter temperatures, we can’t ignore the fact that millions of people around the world are already suffering from extreme climate-related weather events.

“The poll findings suggest that most people in the UK are unaware of the impacts of climate change in poorer countries, and are perhaps more preoccupied with the effects being felt closer to home.

“One reason for this may be that the climate crisis in poorer countries is less visible in the media than the situation in places like Australia where their terrible bush fires dominated UK headlines for many days.

“Yet evidence clearly shows those who suffer most acutely from the damaging effects of climate change live in the poorest countries, and within those countries in the poorest communities.

“These are places with majority black and brown populations, and with limited resources to cope.

“Often the worst effects of the climate crisis reflect and entrench existing inequality.

“Be it indigenous communities in Brazil, rural families in Bangladesh, or pastoralists in northern Kenya, they’re on the frontline of more frequent or intense droughts, floods, storms, failed harvests and food shortages.

“Yet they have done least to contribute to the climate crisis. It is deeply unjust.”

The research undertaken by Savanta ComRes also found that just 26% of Brits believe that black, Asian and Arab people are hardest hit by the negative effects of climate change globally, such as droughts, floods, more intense storms, food insecurity and poor air quality.

A third of British adults (31%) say that they believe white people suffer most from the harmful consequences of climate change, and a similar proportion believe all ethnic groups are equally as vulnerable (28%).

Christian Aid commissioned the poll to measure public perceptions of the link between race and the climate crisis, at a time of increased focus on racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to Christian Aid, these poll findings underscore the need for greater public awareness of the significant damage that the climate crisis already poses, and will increasingly pose, to people living in extreme poverty worldwide – the vast majority of whom are not white.

The Savanta ComRes poll found that a third of British adults (33%) believe the UK’s climate change movement is not racially diverse.

Those who are concerned about climate change are significantly more likely than those who are not to agree that the UK’s climate change movement is not racially diverse (41% vs 23%).

The same is true of those who are concerned about racism and racial inequality (43% vs 27%).

This month Christian Aid is launching a study into the attitudes, experiences and perspectives of black British Christians in relation to climate justice.

The study, to be conducted by Savanta ComRes during July and August will explore the drivers and barriers that black Christians face when engaging with the climate justice movement.

In other findings, Christian Aid’s poll found that British adults who say they are concerned about climate change (45% vs 21%), racism and racial inequality (46% vs 22%) are twice as likely as those who are not concerned about these issues to agree that climate change disproportionately impacts people worldwide.

Whereas British adults who are not concerned about climate change are significantly more likely than those who are concerned about climate change to believe that white people are more vulnerable to its negative impacts worldwide (39% vs 24%).

This could indicate further that those who are less engaged with climate change are also less familiar with the damage it causes around the world.

Only a third (34%) of Brits believe the UK Government is currently investing adequate levels of resource and funding to tackle climate change.

Those who are concerned about climate change are significantly more likely than those who are not to agree that tackling racism and racial inequality in the UK should receive the same level of political attention as climate change (58% vs 31%).