U.N.: Climate change impacts racial groups differently

U.N. working group finds people of African origin may be more vulnerable than others.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Dec. 29, 2015 at 8:13 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Racial marginalization leaves many people of African descent more exposed to the threats from climate change than other members of society, a U.N. report finds.

An agreement signed by 195 national leaders this month called for all parties to make strides to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level necessary to curb global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Under the terms of the agreement, wealthier nationals are expected to help finance the shift to a low-carbon economy from poor developing nations. Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who chairs a U.N. working group on African groups, said risk, not market factors, should be where parties to the Paris agreement put their focus.

Despite advances in desegregation, Mendes-France said people of African descent often live with less money in and less affluent communities.

"They often live in communities disproportionately affected for decades by environmental degradation such as air pollution and toxic waste," she said in a statement. "They are now bearing, and are set to further bear, a disproportionately high burden of the consequences of climate change."

U.S. President Barack Obama, the first U.S. president of African lineage in the nation's history, said the Paris agreement was "the best chance" to arrest global warming.

Nevertheless, Mendes-France said the discussions on climate change much be framed in terms of inequality, as many people of African descent "remain trapped in structural and institutional invisibility."

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