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Half of black UK Christians think climate movement is not racially diverse enough

by Tola Mbakwe

A survey commissioned by Christian Aid has revealed 51 per cent of black British Christians believe the climate change movement needs more racial diversity. The study suggests 33 per cent of the British public hold the same sentiment.

Christian Aid released a survey about black Christians’ attitudes on climate change on Thursday, something the charity said is the first of its kind.

Chine McDonald, Christian Aid’s head of public engagement, told Premier it was vital to find out what ethnic minorities think.

“We hadn't specifically asked this group of people what their views were. Often conversations within the environmental movement and in the green movement go on without engaging people from ethnic minorities in the UK. So we wanted to ask a specific question to that group.”

The Savanta ComRes poll revealed 66 per cent of black British Christians feel they know at least a fair amount about climate change, compared to 49 per cent of the British public.

Also, black Christians born in a country more vulnerable to climate change are more likely than those born in the UK or a less vulnerable country to say they know at least a fair amount about climate change. 

Meanwhile, black Christians are twice as likely as the general public to make lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon footprint or engage in campaigns or protests. These include them being more likely to take eco-friendly forms of travel (18 per cent vs 9 per cent), installing solar panels (8 per cent vs 4 per cent) or buying an electric car (8 per cent vs 4 per cent). 

“What we found is that there is a lot of appetite and there's a lot of concern among black Christians about the environment and climate justice, both in the UK and in climate affected countries that Christian Aid works in,” McDonald said.

“But they also want a lot more from their church leaders in order to engage to know what the Bible says about stewardship of the earth, to know how Christians should engage in this really huge issue for our generation in the future generations to come.”

The study also showed the British public think that white people around the world are the most affected ethnic group from the effects of climate change, despite the fact that the most impacted regions are in poorer countries in the global South.

Christian Aid

Christian Aid said this suggests that despite the Black Lives Matter movement raising awareness about racial injustice, there is a lack of understanding among the British public about who really suffers from climate change. 

Rev Alton Bell, senior pastor at Wembley Family Church said in response the survey results: “This study has shown that Black Christians are aware of this issue but seldom have their concerns heard or articulated.

“From my perspective, climate injustice is a product of the industrialisation of the world, which in turn is a product of the enslavement of people of African heritage. The legacy of these actions still impacts black and brown people most, and it is they who live in the global South. If this research can help inspire those from the global South and convince those in the industrial countries to take action, then this will allow the earth to breathe again.”

Listen to Premier’s interview with Chine McDonald here:


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