Climate Agreement Reached, but Fails to Recognize Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice

Amazon Watch Statement on COP21 Agreement

Amazon Watch

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Paul Paz y Miño, +1.510.281.9020 x302 or

Paris, France – Over the last two weeks, Amazon Watch stood in solidarity with indigenous peoples and front line communities as they forcefully advocated for their rights and promoted true climate solutions at the COP21 climate summit. As the details of the Paris Accord are being revealed, we continue to support their rights, solutions and their denunciations of the agreement as inadequate and a potential death sentence for vulnerable communities everywhere.

Long before scientists realized we need to keep most fossil fuels in the ground, indigenous peoples like the Kichwa of Sarayaku successfully led fights to shut down dirty energy projects. This is part of the indigenous leadership that should be mainstreamed and scaled up. Instead of "offsetting" ongoing carbon emissions with market-based mechanisms like REDD+, the focus should be on keeping fossil fuels from being extracted and burned in the first place. The entire fossil fuel industry must be retired as soon as possible and replaced with 100% renewable energy.

One severe retreat in the text was the removal of legally-binding guarantees for the respect of indigenous peoples rights. Many of the so-called solutions to climate change have life-or-death implications for indigenous peoples. Large hydropower – like mega-dams on the Tapajós River in the Brazilian Amazon, for example – is presented as clean energy, but in fact has disastrous impacts on human rights, the environment and our global climate.

In response to the text of the final agreement, which excludes indigenous rights, Patricia Gualinga from Sarayaku said, "The results of the Paris Accord confirm, once more, that governments don't care about human rights. As much as they say that they want to combat climate change, if they do not respect indigenous rights and territories and continue to uncontrollably extract resources, there will be no real change nor climate justice and that will be disastrous for all humanity and all life."

While governments celebrate that an agreement has been made, let's all remember that any agreement must be backed by implementation and action. We will continue to take action by supporting indigenous peoples as they defend Mother Earth, protect their sacred homelands, and keep fossil fuels in the ground. It is more important than ever that we work together to call for indigenous rights and climate justice now!

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