This week marks the final week of COP21, in which leaders from 150 countries have gathered in Paris to attend the annual Conference of Parties – to talk about climate change from a global perspective. The goal of COP21 is to identify solutions to issues that threaten our health, the economy, and even our national security. To underscore the importance of this in the Black community, 19 HBCUs have sent a student delegation to participate in these climate talks, including New Orleans’ Dillard University, which was most impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Recently I was asked to weigh in on climate change and what it means for Black business. I grew up in Oakland, and know firsthand about the impact of pollution in the Black community. Black Americans make up only 13% of the U.S. population; yet largely experience overwhelming health and economic effects of climate change at disproportionally higher rates. When you think about it in those terms, we all need to take a closer look at what we can do to reverse the trend of environmental injustice, and how we can best use Black-owned environmental businesses to lead repair efforts.
USBC exist to support every effort to make the Black community economically stronger. In part, this means we implore ourselves to reach greater fluency in green technology – and advocate for equal access to government contracts. Anything less presents missed opportunities for our own economic advancement. On November 19, USBC and select member Chambers kicked off a series of conversations alongside national civic activists, members of the clergy, university professors and some of the country’s foremost thought leaders on the environment and urban communities. USBC spent time in Austin, Baltimore and St. Louis, and are grateful for the participation of local leaders and local chambers.
Our focus must now be on how the Black community and the economic agenda can be advanced through participation in the green economic boom. This is everything from building and installing solar panels to establishing companies that use only eco-friendly products.
We know climate change is a real and growing threat. And now that we’ve stated the problem, it’s time to rally around the President and his initiatives, primarily the Clean Power Plan, which is set to reduce carbon emission from power plants. The Clean Power Plan also has incredible economic benefits, namely helping us save nearly 7% on our home electricity bills. This is significant.
Our communities are wrought with injustices of various kinds– the lack of healthy, affordable food; poor opportunities to quality education and employment; and limited resources to support business creation. All of these exacerbate the impact of climate change on the Black community. Our need for environmental equality comes in many forms, each requiring deliberate action with deliberate speed.
Let us play an active role in securing our part of the green economic boom.
In the Spirit of Success,
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.