From the Indigenous Environmental Network, April 25:
Anchorage, Alaska — At the first global gathering of Indigenous Peoples on climate change, participants were outraged at the intensifying rate of destruction the climate crisis is having on the Earth and all peoples. Participants reaffirmed that Indigenous Peoples are most impacted by climate change and called for support and funding for Indigenous Peoples to create adaptation and mitigation plans for themselves, based on their own Traditional Knowledge and practices. Indigenous Peoples also took a strong position on emission reduction targets of industrialized countries and against false solutions.
The majority of those attending looked towards addressing the root problem—the burning of fossil fuels—and demanded an immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel development and called for a swift and just transition away from fossil fuels.
“While the arctic is melting, Africa is suffering from drought and many Pacific Islands are in danger of disappearing. Indigenous Peoples are locked out of national and international negotiations,” stated Jihan Gearon, Native energy and climate campaigner of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We’re sending a strong message to the next UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this December in Copenhagen, Denmark that business as usual must end, because business as usual is killing us. Participants at the summit stood united on sending a message to the world leaders in Copenhagen calling for a binding emission reduction target for developed countries of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% by 2050.”
“In Alaska, my people are on the front lines of climate change and are devastated by the fossil fuel industry,” related Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL). “As an Alaska Native network we are fighting back. We recently won a major battle last week as the District Court of Columbia threw out a plan to access 83 million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf that was driven by Shell Oil. Shell has a long history of human rights violations, for which many have suffered and died, like Ken Saro-Wiwa of the Ogoni People in the Niger Delta of Africa.”
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network’s Executive Director, commented, “We want real solutions to climate chaos and not the false solutions like forest carbon offsets and other market based mechanisms that will benefit only those who are making money on those outrageous schemes.” He added, “For example one the solutions to mitigate climate change is an initiative by the World Bank to protect forests in developing countries through a carbon market regime called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD.” He concluded, “Don’t be fooled, REDD does nothing to address the underlying drivers of deforestation.”
At a World Bank presentation at the global summit, Egberto Tabo, General Secretary of COICA, the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin denounced “the genocide caused by the World Bank in the Amazon.” Mr. Tabo also categorically rejected the inclusion of forests in the carbon market and the Bank’s funding of REDD. The World Bank’s representative, Navin Rai admitted that “the Bank has made mistakes in the past. We know that there were problems with projects like the trans-amazon highway.” But REDD, he argued would not be more of the same. However, indigenous leaders at the global summit were unconvinced by his assurances and the Work Bank presentation ended with a Western Shoshone women’s passionate appeal to the Bank to stop funding projects that endanger the survival of indigenous peoples.