“What has changed?”: Indigenous peoples at COP26

9 November 2021 

Members of the Indigenous Peoples Articulation of Brazil (APIB) gathered outside the gates of entry to the COP26 climate conference and called repeatedly for the Brazilian government to demarcate their land.

Their calls come after the international climate negotiations resumed in Glasgow yesterday and are set to conclude this weekend. 

“Indigenous peoples have come to these international events more than once, but we don’t want to be here. We are not grateful to be here,” an indigenous representative told the crowd. 

Another speaker echoed the sentiment, highlighting to those in attendance that indigenous people “have been at COPs for two decades. What has changed?” 

Those who addressed the rally stressed that solutions to the climate emergency, the biodiversity emergency and the plight of indigenous peoples lie in demarcation of their land, which would return it to indigenous populations. 

“Governments are here negotiating but they are not including the people who are actually fighting climate change. We are part of the solution. We want to be heard and consulted…and one of those solutions is demarcation,” a member of the Indigenous Peoples Articulation of Brazil said. 

Speakers also stressed the stewardship of indigenous people when it comes to protecting biodiversity. While they make up 5 per cent of the global population, indigenous communities are responsible for preserving 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity. 

“When our territories are safe, biodiversity is protected,” an ABIP speaker concluded. 

Indigenous communities & carbon offsetting 

Just last week members of the Indigenous Environmental Network held a demonstration near the COP26 venue and urged world leaders to reject carbon offsetting as a means to addressing the climate crisis. 

Members of the network have long argued that it does not truly offset fossil fuel production, allows for greenhouse gas emissions to continue to increase, and facilitates the continuation of environmental injustice. 

Carbon offsetting is a process whereby measures such as tree-planting are carried out to compensate for emissions elsewhere. Forestation projects are commonly put forward as such projects, which environmental NGOs warn are increasingly designated to indigenous land. 

Mass tree-planting as means to address the climate emergency also pose a number of risks to soil and local ecosystems, according to members of Scientist Rebellion. 

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The group hosted a public “teach-in” yesterday around false solutions often presented to solve the climate crisis, and stressed that monoculture tree plantations are not adequate in addressing the numerous environmental crises populations face the globe-over. 

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