The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Consortium is sending a delegation of 50 student leaders and faculty mentors to the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties 21st convening (COP21) in Paris, France from November 30 – December 11, 2015. The COP21 Climate Summit will bring together more than 125 world leaders, international organizations and civil society to discuss plans to achieve a new international agreement on the climate.
The HBCU COP21 delegation includes 15 schools in states stretching from Texas to Pennsylvania: Alabama A&M University, (Huntsville, AL), Alabama State University, (Montgomery, AL), Claflin University (Orangeburg, SC), Dillard University (New Orleans, LA), Florida A&M University (Tallahassee, FL), Grambling State University (Grambling, LA), Howard University (Washington, DC), Huston-TiIlotson University (Austin, TX), Lincoln University (Lincoln University, PA), Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA), North Carolina A&T University (Greensboro, NC), Southern A&M University (Baton Rouge, LA), Spelman College (Atlanta, GA), Tennessee State University (Nashville, TN), and Texas Southern University (Houston, TX).
The HBCU Climate Change Consortium is the brainchild of Dr. Beverly Wright, Director of Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) in New Orleans and Dr. Robert D. Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston. It was conceived to train a new generation of climate leaders and help raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and marginalized communities. The consortium also supports capacity building and collaborations related to environmental and climate justice, community resilience, adaptation and other major climate change topics (transportation fuels, energy sources, carbon emissions, green jobs-green economy, just transition, and community economic development). It sponsors activities that provide opportunities for HBCU students to learn about climate change science, policy and advocacy and to present their research projects on topics relative to climate change issues. The consortium will host the Fourth Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference at Dillard University in New Orleans on March 30 – April 3, 2016. To date, the consortium has a total of 22 participating schools.
Students at HBCUs are severely underrepresented in climate change discourse and need opportunities to engage with researchers, scientists, policy makers, and grassroots community based organizations about the expected impacts of climate change. Ironically, many of the students in the COP21 delegation are from frontline climate-vulnerable communities in the Gulf Coast and southern region of the United States—a region where more billion-dollar disasters occur than the rest of the country combined. The consortium is strengthening community-university partnerships and building a “southern initiative” in the cities and region where the vast majority of HBCUs are located.
The delegation is working with and received travel support for the Paris summit from a number of regional and national civil rights, faith based, climate justice and environmental organizations—including Gulf Coast Rising, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, Energy Action Coalition, Hip Hop Caucus, United Church of Christ, USCAN, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Greenpeace USA. The HBCU delegates will participate in several COP21 civil society side events and use the opportunity to build and expand alliances with delegates representing the African Diaspora, indigenous peoples and the Global South to raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and marginalized populations and communities in the U.S. and around the world and the need for just, equitable and fair solutions.