Bristol campaigners speak for city's black community at COP26 climate summit in Glasgow

Olivia Sweeney (left) and Roy Kareem (right) travelled from Bristol to Glasgow to speak at the COP26 climate summit. Credit: Twitter / Black and Green Ambassadors

Environmental campaigners have spoken at COP26 about Bristol's "illegal levels of air pollution" and how the city's black community is "disproportionately" affected by the crisis.

Olivia Sweeney and Roy Kareem spoke at the climate conference in Glasgow in a bid to raise awareness of the "lack of diversity" within the environmental movement.

"I've spoken to people who have lost loved ones due to air pollution, who have noticed the effects on their lungs and their health, whose younger brothers and sisters have suffered from asthma," explained Olivia.

The pair are a part of Bristol's Black and Green Ambassadors programme. It was set up in 2020 to include everyone in efforts to tackle climate change and make sure people from all over Bristol can benefit from the action being taken.

"We recognise that the climate crisis is a global issue, but I think what is sometimes under-represented is the effect it has on our local communities," said Roy.

"It's often those communities that contribute the least to those problems, but they have the most negative impacts on their day to day lives."

Speaking on stage at the climate summit on Friday 5 November, Olivia and Roy also highlighted some of the people in Bristol who are already taking action.

Enrico Temple founded Soul Trail, a walking group that aims to get people out in the South West countryside, reconnecting with nature, and looking after their mental health.

Tara Miran, from St Paul's, set up a community garden in her area of Bristol and has since opened a community veg shop - with the sole aim of getting fresh produce to people at an affordable price.

"Communities of colour are concentrated in cities for a plethora of different reasons," Olivia told audience members at COP26.

She explained that these communities are less likely to have access to green space, are more likely to live in high-rise flats, and have poor connections to public transport.

"Those from non-white backgrounds make up the global majority of people, but up to this point they have a minority stake in our human-made political and financial systems," Roy added.

The aim of Bristol's Black and Green Ambassadors, they explained, is to change the narrative around climate action and include people from all walks of life.

Click here to find out more about the programme.