Indigenous leaders from around the world gathered near the COP21 climate summit in Paris on Sunday to demand world leaders heed the warnings of social movements and take definitive action on climate change with respect to indigenous peoples’ rights.
A flotilla headed by indigenous leaders from “the Arctic to the Amazon” floated down the Seine while leaders rounded off the first week of negotiations aimed at reaching an internationally binding climate deal.
BREAKING: Flotilla in Paris led by Indigenous Peoples from the Arctic to the Amazon. They are want the protection of indigenous rights in the climate deal, real solutions and are calling on world leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Indigenous Environmental Network Idle No More Amazon WatchPosted by 350.org on Sunday, December 6, 2015
The indigenous leaders’ demonstration comes a day after climate delegates agreed on a draft text despite outstanding disputes and civil society groups held a parallel Alternative Climate Summit on the sidelines of COP21 in Paris.
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Indigenous delegations stress that ending extractivism and keeping fossil fuels in the ground are key to tackling climate change. According to indigenous leaders, rich, industrialized countries, largely responsible for fueling climate change, must take responsibility for lowering their own emissions and not offload the burden through carbon offset programs that allow big polluters buy carbon credits from other countries.
“Offsetting is only continuing to affect developing countries, so we have to take responsibility for their contamination,” Berenice Sanchez, and indigenous leader from Mexico, told Prensa Latina, adding that such schemes violate indigenous peoples’ rights by treating their territories and forests as a carbon sink “garbage dump” to absorb the negative impacts of rich countries’ high levels of consumption.
According to a recent Oxfam report, the poorest half of the world suffering the worst impacts of climate change is responsible for just 10 percent of global carbon emissions, while the richest 10 percent spews out half of all emissions.
Indigenous demonstrators spoke from experiences as representatives of communities on the front lines of fighting against climate change and the negative impacts of extractivism on indigenous land and waters.
The flotilla of over 25 kayaks was led by a traditional Sarayaku canoe of the Kichwa people of Ecuador and accompanied by traditional drumming and singing. After the floating demonstration, indigenous leaders from North and South America held a press conference to voice their demands.
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COP21, which kicked off in Paris on Nov. 30, will continue until Dec. 11. Many are hopeful that world leader will finally reach a universally binding climate agreement after years of deliberations.