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Eleven archbishops and 60 bishops sign Anglican pledges on environmental racism

23 June 2020


An indigenous woman wearing a face mask that reads “Indigenous lives matter” looks on during the funeral of Chief Messias Kokama, from the Parque das Tribos (Tribes Park), who died of Covid-19, at Parque das Tribos, Manaus, in Brazil, last month

An indigenous woman wearing a face mask that reads “Indigenous lives matter” looks on during the funeral of Chief Messias Kokama, from the Parque das ...

BLACK lives are those most at risk from environmental collapse, says a statement from the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN).

The Archbishop of Canterbury and 13 other Church of England bishops are on the list of 11 Anglican archbishops and presiding bishops and 60 bishops from around the world who have signed the statement. It marked last Friday, known as Juneteenth in the United States, the anniversary of the official end of slavery in the American South in 1865.

“It is predominantly black lives that are being impacted by drought, flooding, storms and sea level rise,” the signatories state.

“The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees.”

The episcopal signatories from the Church of Engalnd are the Bishops of Salisbury, Oxford, Truro, Dover, Dunwich, Woolwich, Sherborne, Loughborough, Kingston, Reading, and Ramsbury; and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, and Bishop David Atkinson.

The current Primates of Central America, the United States, Canada, Southern Africa, Mexico, and Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia are among the archiepiscopal signatories.

“We stand at a Kairos moment — in order to fight environmental injustice, we must also fight racial injustice,” the letter says. “In the words of Archbishop Tutu: ‘If you are neutral in times of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’”

Black and indigenous communities around the world suffered under colonialism and continue to experience injustice that violently removes them from their ancestral lands, as well as rising sea-levels and drought because of climate change, the ACEN states.

Even in wealthier nations, they bear the brunt of “environmental racism”, because industrial toxic waste is often dumped within their communities, blighting the local ecosystem.

To show truly that #BlackLivesMatter, the world must take action for climate justice, the statement concludes.

The ACEN make a series of pledges, among them recognising and challenging white privilege and the colonial legacy in the Communion, challenging theological narratives that perpetuate racism, and “acting in solidarity with vulnerable populations experiencing eco-injustice” through advocacy, non-violent protest, and boycotts.

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