Indigenous Environmental Network Tasks Biden on Fossil Fuels

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) is tasking the new US President, Joe Biden, big time on fossil fuels. It is also welcoming the Biden administration’s decision to take America back to the Paris Climate Agreement.

IEN wants Biden to take ‘’real action’’ towards keeping fossil fuels in the ground, as well as providing support for equitable emissions reductions world-wide. For the group, it is just ways of building an international movement to address the climate crisis.

It has also vowed to continue organising against US relying on the false solutions of carbon pricing mechanisms that do not cut emissions at source.  

President Joe Biden on January 20 announced that US will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, reversing the actions of immediate past President Donald Trump.

Established in 1990 within US, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). Its activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect their sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both their people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.

IEN accomplishes this by maintaining an informational clearinghouse, organising campaigns, direct actions and public awareness, building the capacity of community and tribes to address EJ issues, development of initiatives to impact policy, and building alliances among Indigenous communities, tribes, inter-tribal and Indigenous organisations, people-of-color/ethnic organisations, faith-based and women groups, youth, labour, environmental organizations and others.

IEN convenes local, regional and national meetings on environmental and economic justice issues, and provides support, resources and referral to Indigenous communities and youth throughout primarily North America – and in recent years – globally.

Although it loudly welcomed the Biden administration’s announcement of US rejoining the Paris Agreement, IEN however, pointed out that the purpose of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the reduction of greenhouse gases.

‘’Emissions have actually risen since 1992’’, IEN says, pointing out that financial support for the fossil fuel industry has increased every year since the Paris Agreement was adopted, to the tune of $2.7 trillion since 2016, with fossil fuel financing dominated by big US banks.

According to it on its website, ‘’given this dismal history of international cooperation and the inability to reduce emissions under the carbon market-focused Kyoto Protocol, we will continue to organise against  the US relying on the false solutions of carbon pricing mechanisms that do not cut emissions at source.

IEN has been kicking against the Paris Agreement, claiming that it does not recognise indigenous rights.

On November 17, 2017, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) come to an end. While progress has been made on the UNFCCC traditional knowledge Platform for engagement of local communities and indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples’ rights are not fully recognised in the final platform document of COP 23.

The burden of implementation however, falls on local communities and indigenous peoples.

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Attorney and expert on human rights and rights of indigenous peoples at IEN,   Alberto Saldamando, says “we are not waving the victory flags yet, the local communities and Indigenous peoples platform does not recognise the rights of Indigenous peoples in the human rights sense of the term recognise.

‘’It only recalls the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples in its preamble. Given the resistance of States during these negotiations to fully recognise the rights of Indigenous peoples, the task for a greater recognition of our rights as peoples will be difficult.

“The platform for traditional knowledge is merely that. It should allow Indigenous knowledge holders to advise and inform the UN climate conference in mitigation and adaptation. Although we would hope that it would, the platform does not necessarily protect forests or rights.

‘’That is yet to be determined as we proceed on the path of implementation. It is not even implemented yet. This decision only allows us to participate in operationalising it, sometime in the future, at the next UNFCCC COP 24. Notwithstanding what has been reported we are not negotiating or decision making. The platform will only recommend.”

Dallas Goldtooth, another fron line IEN activist explains that during the COP23 conference there was engaged discussion on the mitigation of climate change and the implementation of the agreements made in Paris during COP21.

‘’However, it’s been a real struggle to get parties, nation-states, to take the sincere steps needed to addressing the climate chaos we are seeing across the globe. There has more emphasis on building up the monetization of forests and trading carbon than there has been on the managed decline of fossil fuel production, and Indigenous peoples are right in the middle of this.

‘’We need international solidarity for Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground and to reject carbon trading as a climate solution. We must exert our our power as citizens of the world to protect indigenous rights, address the climate chaos, and to defend the sacred integrity of Mother Earth. I firmly believe in the collective power of us all to make the changes we need to see.
‘’It is our understanding that the false solutions of carbon marketing offsetting greenhouse gas emissions offered by the US White House representatives or California’s very own Governor Jerry Brown will cause more harm to humanity and continue to silence indigenous voices and our existence. False solutions like these are cancerous and have negative impacts like respiratory problems and autoimmune diseases’’, he said.

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