Indigenous groups from around the world are preparing to travel to Glasgow for COP26 to call for climate action and demand a greater say in negotiations, the Arizona Republic reports. However, despite being among the least culpable and most harmed by the climate crisis, they will not be fully credentialed while they seek to influence the important discussions already dogged by problems of inequitable access.
Since being elected as a tribal leader 15 years ago, Fawn Sharp, now the Vice President of the Quinault Indian Nation in what is now Washington state, has seen the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, and shrinking glaciers and ocean acidification which are decimating salmon numbers — a crisis for tribes across the continent. Andrea Carmen, a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the former co-chair of the UN’s Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform Facilitative Working Group, and executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council has been fighting for a seat at the international table since COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009.
She, along with other Indigenous rights activists, were able to get two references to Indigenous rights in the final draft of the Paris Agreement despite no Indigenous people being in the room where it happened.
“We called for our rights and knowledge to be respected, not just because of the impacts we were experiencing,” Carmen told the Republic, “but also we are convinced that our knowledge, our ancestral knowledge and practices had a lot to contribute to these discussions.” Native activists have demanded the Biden Administration take stronger action to protect their land and water resources from fossil fuel extraction and pipelines, including the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline.