Rush to stop ‘false climate solutions’ ahead of next UN climate meeting

This story was originally published by Grinding and appears here as part of the Climatic desk collaboration. This story is published as part of the Office of Global Indigenous Affairsan Indigenous-led collaboration between Grist, High Country News, ICT, Mongabay, Native News Online and APTN.

For more than 20 years, Tom Goldtooth has heard conversations about the negative impacts that fossil fuels and carbon markets have on indigenous peoples. Last month, Goldtooth and the Indigenous Environmental Network, or IEN, called for a permanent end to carbon markets. Beyond being an ineffective tool to mitigate climate change, it sustains the organization, harming, exploiting and dividing native communities around the world.

The recommendation was delivered to a host of activists, policymakers and indigenous leaders at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or UNPFII, and is the most comprehensive moratorium on the issue the panel has ever heard. If adopted, the position would pressure other United Nations agencies, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, to adopt a similar stance. The greatest urgency arises from the COP29 The meeting is scheduled for later this year, when provisions of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement on carbon market structures are expected to be finalized.

“We are long overdue for a moratorium on false climate solutions like carbon markets,” said Goldtooth, who is Diné and Dakota and executive director of IEN. “It is a life or death situation for our people in relation to the mitigation solutions that are being negotiated, especially under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 is about carbon markets, which is a smokescreen, which is a loophole. [that keeps] that fossil fuel polluters agree to phase out carbon.”

Tom Goldtooth gives a speech during the “Indigenous People’s View on Climate Change” event in December 2015. Photo by Getty Images/Grist

The network’s language about “false climate solutions” is intentional. Tamra Gilbertson, coordinator and researcher for the organization’s climate justice program, said a fake climate solution is anything that appears to be a tool to reduce emissions or fight climate change but allows extractive companies to continue profiting from the fuels. fossils that drive the crisis.

“Carbon markets have been created by polluting industries,” Gilbertson said. “The premise of carbon markets as a good mitigation outcome or a good mitigation program for the UNFCCC is itself a misconception. And we know it because of who created it.”

The carbon market moratorium the network requested would end carbon dioxide removal projects such as carbon capture and storage; forest, soil and ocean offsets; nature-based solutions; debt-for-nature swaps; biodiversity offsets; and other geoengineering technologies.

This year’s moratorium recommendation builds on a similar proposal the IEN offered at last year’s forum when it called for stopping carbon markets until indigenous communities could “thoroughly investigate the impacts and make appropriate demands.” That call led to an international meeting in January, where Native experts discussed the impacts a green economy has and would have on their communities. In the end, participants produced a report detailing how green economy projects and initiatives can create a new way of colonizing the lands and territories of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples rush to stop ‘false climate solutions’ ahead of next international climate meeting. #ClimateSolutions #CarbonMarkets #IndigenousPeoples #IndigenousClimateAction #COP29

Darío José Mejía Montalvo, from the Zenú tribe in Colombia, participated in the January meeting and chaired a previous UNPFII. He highlighted the report during a UN session last month.

“The transition towards a green economy [keeps] starting from the same extractivist logic that prioritizes the private sector, which is guided by the national economic interests of multinationals, which ignores the struggles of indigenous peoples, the fight against climate change and the fight against poverty,” said Montalvo, according to a UN translation of a speech he gave in Spanish.

Darío José Mejía Montalvo speaks during an interview with AFP at the Amazonian Dialogues Seminar on August 6, 2023. Photo by Getty Images/Grist

Goldtooth and Gilbertson say that while the January report established a broader consensus on the negative impacts of the green economy, the IEN felt that the report’s recommendations were unclear and did not go far enough to discourage the growth of carbon markets, which is why the organization is calling for a permanent moratorium.

“We have to do everything we can from every direction possible in this climate emergency that we find ourselves in because we don’t have much more time,” Gilbertson said. If carbon markets are enshrined in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement as currently drafted and become a more powerful international network, “we are in a whole new era of interconnected global carbon markets like we have never seen before. And then we got caught up in that.”

Under the Paris Agreement, countries submit plans detailing how they will reduce emissions or increase carbon sequestration. Article 6 provides pathways for nations to voluntarily cooperate and trade emissions to achieve their climate goals. More specifically, paragraph 6.4 would create a centralized market and lead to large-scale implementation of emissions reductions trading. The nuances of these structures and the way carbon markets are presented in Article 6 have far-reaching impacts: A report published in November by the International Emissions Trading Association, or IETAshowed that 80 percent of all countries indicate that they will or would use carbon markets to meet their climate goals.

In their current form, the carbon offset projects outlined in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement would further threaten Indigenous land tenure and access to resources. If completed in November, the pilot projects are expected to begin in January 2025.

At this year’s forum, organizations including the United Nations Development Programme, Climate Focus, Forests Peoples Program and Rainforest US discussed new initiatives to protect the rights of indigenous peoples within a carbon market. In particular, increasing attention is being paid to policies that would more effectively incorporate free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) into carbon offset operations. But Kimaren Riamit, executive director of ILEPA-Kenyaan Indigenous-led nonprofit, said the foundation that needs to be laid even before FPIC is better recognition of Indigenous self-determination — agency for tribes to decide for themselves whether they want to participate in carbon market projects.

“FPIC without self-determination facilitators is useless because what do you consent to when your land rights do not exist? What do you consent to if you are not part of the decision governance agreement? said Riamit, who belongs to Kenya’s Maasai tribe. Facilitators of self-determination include the protection of indigenous territorial sovereignty and security of land tenure.

Riamit says that in carbon market projects, free, prior and informed consent has become a strategic tool and a confusing exercise in disseminating information rather than a way to obtain meaningful consent from tribes. There must be deliberate and full disclosure to tribes of what they are agreeing to when they participate in a carbon market project, and time for them to digest the information, consult internally, provide feedback, and, crucially, “be able to say no.” ”

For Riamit, it is notable that carbon offset companies do not advocate strongly, if at all, for better self-determination for the indigenous communities they work with.

“They don’t sharpen a knife to kill themselves,” he said.

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