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‘A death sentence’: Indigenous climate activists denounce Cop26 deal | Cop26
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‘A death sentence’: Indigenous climate activists denounce Cop26 deal | Cop26

Indigenous people protest in front of the Cop26 venue.


As a result, Indigenous communities are facing an increase in land grabs and water shortages as well as human rights violations. Cop26Deals have accused world leaders to having sacrificed them in order for meaningful climate action to be delayed and corporate profits to be protected.

The Glasgow deal creates a regulated global carbon trading market – a move widely supported by the world’s biggest polluters including the US – allowing countries to partially meet their climate targets by buying credits representing emission cuts by others.

Critics warn that carbon markets incentivize countries and corporations to offset – rather than cut – emissions responsible for global heating by investing in so-called green energy projects like biofuel monocrops and hydroelectric dams, which are linked to environmental destruction, forced displacement, arbitrary arrests and even murder.

Additionally, these carbon credit programs often rely on sequestering forests, rivers, and land that are important to indigenous and local communities for their food, water, medicine, and spiritual traditions. There is not much evidence to suggest that they result in a significant drop in emissions.

Global emissions have risen steadily since 1997 when carbon credits were introduced under the voluntary Kyoto protocol.

Now, Indigenous communities fear what’s coming next as the scope and scale of the new global carbon market – introduced in article 6 of the Paris accords – is much wider. There will be participation from far more countries and industries than the US, Saudi Arabia, and civil aviation.

“Cop26 leaders signed an agreement that will entrench sacrificing Indigenous people … [but] failed to include real solutions to meet the climate chaos that many of our frontline Indigenous communities are facing,” said Thomas Joseph from the Hoopa tribe, located in California. “The leaders pushing for market-based solutions and the commodification of our Mother Earth are signing a death sentence.”

Andrea Xieu, spokesperson for the Mexican collective Futuros Indígenas (Indigenous Futures)The deal was described as embarrassing and illustrating the murky influence of fossil fuel firms in Glasgow.

More than 500 fossil fuel lobbyists, affiliated with some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, were granted access to Cop26 – a larger number than any single country delegation. Meanwhile, indigenous people were mostly excluded, Their traditional knowledge of sustainable land and water management was ignored.

“Indigenous nations were not part of the negotiations despite the fact that 80% of the planet’s biodiversity survives in our territories. The problem isn’t just the blah blah blah politicians have, but the bang, bag, bang greenwashing that will continue to destroy our lives and territories,” said Xieu.

Global Witness, an international non profit organization, claims that at least 1,005 environmental and rights defenders have been killed since the Paris agreements were signed six years back. Indigenous people accounted for one in three of the victims. Lenca leader was among the dead. Berta CáceresThe prestigious Goldman Prize for Environmental Defenders was won by Judith Goldman, who was killed in her Honduran home in March 2016 after she opposed the construction of an international-financed dam.

Carbon trading is one of many nature-based solutions to climate crisis, heavily promoted by Cop26 by big polluters as the silver bullet to net zero emissions by 2050. It is also a low-cost solution for the global north.

Indigenous people protest in front of the Cop26 venue.
Cop26 is the scene of protest by indigenous people. Photograph: Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Critics say that offsetsetting carbon is a bogus solution, as it allows polluters continue to pollute and net zero is not zero.

“Net zero is a scam. It is used as a smokescreen to avoid actual transition away from fossil fuels and carry on business as usual by relying on unproven carbon capture technologies and offsets,” said Sebastien Duyck, senior attorney from the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and an official observer.

Activists helped secure a few new safeguards for article 6, such as an independent grievance procedure. Duyck said that carbon markets were still counterproductive and fundamentally dangerous. Investors can still qualify for incentives without having to comply with international treaties requiring indigenous people to be properly consulted.

“Article 6 creates a way for public and private investors to weaponize the Paris agreement for the sake of profits at the cost of local communities and indigenous people’s rights,” added Duyck.

Another popular solution for polluters is to create carbon sinks by massive reforestation, afforestation, and other natural methods.

Although not part of the Cop26 agreement, some calculations show that countries collectively pledged to plant enough trees for a landmass as large as Australia. However, this could threaten the livelihoods, food security, sacred traditions, and livelihoods of small scale farmers and indigenous communities who use large portions of the land that has been earmarked to tree planting.

“Nature-based solutions sound nice, but they won’t solve the climate crisis even if you’re willing to sacrifice indigenous people and local communities,” said Sophie Grig from Survival International. “Net zero is disingenuous and a diversion from doing what needs to be done now: stop burning fossil fuels and protect indigenous land rights.”

Also gaining traction is the UN’s 30 by 30 initiative – a plan to conserve 30% of the planet’s land and seas by 2030 through conservation measures like doubling protected nature reserves, which Joe Biden has promised to implement as part of his climate strategy.

Tom Goldtooth, executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, spoke last week in Glasgow. He said that 30 by 30, which would be the largest planet grab in human history, would lead to millions of people being relocated.

Tom Goldtooth a climate and Indigenous rights leader, spoke to the Prince of Wales during the Cop26 summit.
During the Cop26 summit, Tom Goldtooth, a climate and Indigenous rights leader spoke to the Prince of Wales.Photograph by Clarence House/PA

Another big worry for indigenous communities is Cop26’s failure to help those on the frontline recover, rebuild and adapt to global heating.

Rich polluting countries were able to block the creation a loss and damages fund to compensate communities who lost their homes or livelihoods due floods, droughts heatwaves, heatwaves, and rising sea levels. After nearly 15 years of delays and discussions on loss or damage, the Glasgow agreement requires further dialogue.

“The results of this Cop are not a surprise, but they represent the state of the governments and their feelings, which are completely at odds with wider civil society demanding concrete actions and urgent measures,” said Calfin Lafkenche, a Mapuche organiser with the Minga movement, an indigenous solidarity network.

In response to the acts and omissions at Cop26, the women of the Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayaku, located in Ecuador, declared a state of emergency, citing the summit’s failure to address the existential threats posed to them by fossil fuel companies and the climate crisis.

In a statement, the women said: “Indigenous peoples resist the extraction of natural resources with our bodies, with our lives. Recognize our contribution to combating climate change. Our solutions must be heard.”


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