by Jean-Luc Pierite
No “false solutions” such as carbon markets and net zero schemes and free, prior, and informed consent from Indigenous nations are the demands going into COP26 and going forward.
With the support of Rios to Rivers, International Rivers Network, and Empathy Accelerator, I have access to the Blue Zone at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. This year’s focus on Article 6 called for a strong contingent of Indigenous voices. That said, Visa requirements, vaccine access, and inflated housing costs presented a barrier for most. There was no such barrier for fossil fuel industry lobbyists who outnumbered Indigenous peoples by nearly double.
During the two weeks in Glasgow, we took daily tests that are reported to NHS to access the conference. Outside the entrance, consistent rallies and protests are held by Indigenous Environmental Network, Extinction Rebellion, and other environmental justice organizations.
I spent most of my time in pavilions such as the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change. There, delegates representing uncontacted nations in the Amazon push for protection of territories and the preservation of traditional knowledge. Alaska Native youth told stories from their home lands with the caveat that they should not have to travel so far to protect their ways of life.
Nightly, a series of panels and events titled “Our Village” is presented by organizations including: If Not Us Then Who?, Hip Hop Caucus, and Black and Indigenous Liberation Movement. Each presentation recounts testimonies of: communities fighting wild fires in Amazonia in Ecuador, women promoting resilience in Canada in the aftermath of recoveries of children lost to residential schools, and promotion of traditional knowledge and technology in Indonesia.
Side events continue to promote real solutions such as at the Just Transition Hub at the Peoples’ Summit outside of the Blue Zone. There we listen to the genealogy of organizing centering the Lucas Plan. The 1976 document by the Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards Committee presented an alternative plan to manufacture goods to meet social needs in lieu of the drastic reduction of a workforce to meet “increased international competition and technological change brought about by the need to introduce new technology”. Again, the real solutions come from Indigenous peoples, workers, and local communities.
At the end of COP26 comes a sobering moment that at current policies of the nation states the world will see a 2.4C degrees temperature increase far exceeding the current goal of 1.5C degrees. Also disappointing is the Biden administration’s auction of millions of acres of the Gulf of Mexico for continued offshore drilling. Still, for a just transition, Indigenous Peoples will continue to demand: (1) a full honoring of rights and obligations by nation states, (2) measures beyond consultation meaning free, prior, and informed consent, and (3) an end to false solutions such as carbon markets and net zero schemes.
— Jean-Luc Pierite, a member of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, is president of the board of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB)