As with any crisis – whether that’s the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding or fires – it is much harder to keep yourself safe and protected if you are already at a disadvantage. This means the impacts of the climate crisis and environmental degradation fall disproportionately on people of colour.

Here in the UK, people of colour and their families are more likely to live in poverty, and recent figures also reveal and overrepresentation of people of colour in homelessness. Racialised communities are disproportionately likely to breathe illegal levels of air pollution, with campaign groups like Clean Air for Southall and Hayes forced to fight corporations for the right to clean air.

Immigration policies are a contributing factor to this inequality.

The ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ rule, stamped on most visas, denies people access to the Universal Credit and housing support that many people need to get by, including in Britain’s epidemic of low-paid, insecure work.

The Government’s ‘Right to Rent’ policy makes it harder for people of colour – whether British or not – to find a home to rent. Evidence shows that landlords get nervous about meeting the rules set out by the Home Office, with the result that black and minority ethnic British people, and migrants, get put to the back of the queue when trying to rent a home.

And our own research at JCWI shows the immigration system itself pushes people out of secure status, into the hostile environment, where destitution and exploitation are rife. Since the UK scrapped birthright citizenship, this deprivation is passed from generation to generation, meaning even people born in the UK are not necessarily counted as British.

We need to dismantle these systems which continually strip migrants of their rights and treat them as second-class citizens, particularly those who arrive from countries in the Global South.

Our struggles for racial justice, migrants’ rights, and a liveable planet are bound together.

To tackle the climate crisis, we must dismantle the systems which allow the rich to thrive while throwing the most vulnerable – people of colour – under the bus. 

Find out more - watch back our event, 'Climate Justice is Migrant Justice', hearing from acitivsts on the frontlines of campaigns for climate, racial and migrant justice.

Watch the event

Illustration by the incredible Roshi Rouzbehani

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Back to part 1 of our blog series: what is climate apartheid?

Forward to part 3 of our blog series: “Us and them” won’t solve the climate crisis