What is the Paris Climate Deal?

In 2015, the leaders of most of the world's nations, with the exception of Syria and Nicaragua, met in Paris, France and agreed to enact legislation that would limit their emissions of greenhouse gases. Even the world's largest polluters, like The United States and China, agreed to lower their levels of pollution. The overall goal was to fight climate change and keep the average temperature of the Earth from rising more than two degrees Celsius.

What is Climate Change and Why Is It A Bad Thing?

The phenomenon of Climate Change can be defined as the warming of Earth's atmosphere due to the admission of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are emitted when we burn fossil fuels, such as coal, for energy. They stick around in the atmosphere, which makes it harder for heat that has entered that atmosphere to escape, causing a warming of the Earth. The vast majority of scientist agree that climate change is not only real but it is also heavily influenced by human activity. If Climate Change persist, and the world's average temperature rises more than two degrees Celsius, it would mean widespread extinctions, changing weather patterns, droughts, strong storms, rising sea levels and consequently the disappearance of coastal cities, and a plethora of not yet realized consequences.

What Exactly Did The US Agree To?

The US agreed to cut our admission of greenhouse gases by 26-28 percent by the year 2025. President Obama entered into this agreement through the use of an executive order instead of going through Congress. This means that the entirety of our participation in this deal rest with the sitting president. Unfortunately for the world, the sitting US president is a man who disagrees with most of the scientist, and he believes that Climate Change is a myth perpetrated by the Chinese Government *insert side-eye emoji here*. Despite some of the largest corporations, like Apple, supporting the deal, calling it "good for business by encouraging competition and creating jobs", the great business mind that brought you Trump University, Trump Steaks, and Trump Airlines, seems to disagree.

Why Is This Inherently A Black Issue and Not Just a "Human Issue"?

We must understand that systemic racism has many consequences that our community must face. One of those consequences is Environmental Racism. Environmental Racism can be described as a lack of access to healthy environments and disproportionate exposure to pollutants. This means that predominantly black neighborhoods are more likely to suffer from polluted air and water than white neighborhoods.

We need to look no further than the Flint Water Crisis to see an example of Environmental Racism. This results from the historic herding of black people into specific areas through Red-Zoning and local governments allowing corporations to cut cost and survive under loose regulations that resulted in harming the environment. Disenfranchised areas with lack of voter potential, due to numerous systemic reasons, were neighborhoods that politicians could sacrifice to achieve their political dreams and gain their political capital. In short, if we continue to let corporation pollute as they see fit, black neighborhoods will continue to be the ones who feel the impacts on health first.

In addition to causing health crisis, Climate Change will cause meteorological disasters that will decimate vulnerable black neighborhoods. The warming of Earth will cause super-storms, such as Hurricane Katrina, to occur quite regularly. The failures of the government to get help to the Lower Ninth Ward after the infamous hurricane are still fresh and apparent to many of the people who were and still are being affected by that tragedy. Imagine what a frequent occurrence of these storms could mean for black people along the coast who can not afford to evacuate and leave their homes.

While climate change will affect everyone on this planet, marginalized groups will always be the ones who suffer the most. Environmental issues, for that reason, are inherently black issues. They are issues that we should invest our time and energy into because #BlackLivesMatter.