A new poll commissioned by humanitarian relief charity Christian Aid has found that British people are largely unaware that climate change disproportionately affects communities black and brown people across the world.
The study, undertaken by Savanta ComRes on behalf of Christian Aid, found that just 33% of British adults were aware of the evidence that the poorest people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, along with small island states, continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis.
In addition, the research 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.
The study also found that a third of British adults (31%) say that they believe white people suffer most from the harmful consequences of climate change.
Christian Aid said it 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" and ahead of launching a "landmark study on how black British Christians view and engage with climate justice".
The charity said the 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 black and brown".
Patrick Watt, Christian Aid’s Director of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns, said: “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."
Watt added: "At a time when the movement for racial justice is challenging us to create a just and equal society – both at home and globally – we want to see greater levels of awareness and understanding among the British public, and in our institutions, of the inextricable links between climate change, poverty, and race and ethnicity.”