Climate and Environment

For attendees from global south, UN climate talks are exclusionary

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
For attendees from global south, UN climate talks are exclusionary
Climate activists from the Global South gather at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow, United Kingdom on November 8.
Philstar.com/Gaea Katreena Cabico

GLASGOW, United Kingdom — The organizers of COP26 promised an “inclusive” climate summit but for attendees from countries bearing the brunt of a heating planet, it has been inaccessible and exclusionary.

The conference, which is taking place in the Scottish city of Glasgow, has been billed as the world’s last chance to avert climate catastrophe. The United Kingdom is presiding over the talks.

Lack of access to vaccines and financial resources for travel requirements and accommodations prevented activists and campaigners from participating in the United Nations-brokered summit.

“The few of us who made it here are hampered from participating in the negotiations, while leaders from the global north take center stage to promote false ‘solutions,’” said Jennifer Malonzo, IBON International executive director.

Civil society groups representing indigenous communities and grassroots movements from the global south—low income nations hit most by the effects of climate change—said they have been shut out from attending some activities at the Scottish Events Campus, where negotiations are being held.

“The activities, even in the negotiations themselves, are very limited to people who are able to register and even these numbers are not enough to represent those who are the most affected communities and peoples,” said Beverly Longid, global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation.

Logistical complications are also making it almost impossible for women from the global south to have their voices heard in the conference.

“The real situation experienced by women from frontline communities in the global south due to climate change must be conveyed and heard by the world community to prevent false climate solutions and boost action to realize climate justice,” said Triana Wardani, member of Serikat Perumpuan Indonesia (Indonesian Women’s Organization).

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg slammed COP26 as a “global north greenwash festival” and a “two-week celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.”

COP26 seeks to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and flesh out how pledges made in the Paris accord work in practice. During the first week of the conference, some countries committed to halt deforestation, phase out coal and slash methane emissions.

Indigenous peoples at the center

No one stewards the environment better than indigenous communities, which represent about 5% of the world’s population.

“Our struggle to stop destructive mines, destructive energy projects is one of our contributions to this whole climate action. At the same time, we’re also forwarding solutions that take into consideration the use of proven indigenous cultural practices that would defend lands and territories,” Longid said

She stressed the indigenous peoples must take the center stage in the pivotal climate talks.

“For one, there should be recognition of indigenous peoples as IPs and recognition of our contribution and role in protecting and ending climate change. [They must] give us spaces where we are able to articulate all of these,” Longid said.

“[They] need to heed the demands of indigenous peoples to stop all the destructive projects that are being built in our territories and that includes not only dams, energy projects and plantations but all kinds of land conversion that will bring in more profit to companies, but destruction to people and communities,” she added.

This story was produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

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