23rd Session; United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues April 15-24 2024

IEN’s Events at UNPFII

COP29 could make carbon markets permanent. Indigenous leaders are calling for a moratorium before it’s too late.

For more than 20 years, Tom Goldtooth has listened to conversations about the negative impacts fossil fuels and carbon markets have on Indigenous peoples. On Wednesday, Goldtooth and the Indigenous Environmental Network, or IEN, called for a permanent end to carbon markets. Beyond being an ineffective tool for mitigating climate change, the organization argues; they harm, exploit, and divide Native communities around the world. 

The recommendation was delivered to a crowd of Indigenous activists, policymakers, and leaders at the U.N. 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 — like the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC — to take a similar stance. The heightened urgency stems from the COP29 gathering planned later this year, when provisions in 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’s a life and death situation with our people related to the mitigation solutions that are being negotiated, especially under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 is all about carbon markets, which is a smokescreen, which is a loophole [that keeps] fossil fuel polluters from agreeing to phase out carbon.”

The network’s language on “false climate solutions” is intentional. Tamra Gilbertson, the organization’s climate justice program coordinator and researcher, said a false climate solution is anything that looks like a tool for reducing emissions or fighting climate change but allows extractive companies to continue profiting from the fossil fuels driving the crisis. 

“Carbon markets have been set up by the polluting industries,” Gilbertson said. “The premise of carbon markets as a good mitigation outcome or a good mitigation program for the UNFCCC is in and of itself a flawed concept. And we know that because of who’s put it together.”

The carbon market moratorium the network called for would end carbon dioxide removal projects like 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 a stop to 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. Ultimately, the participants produced a report detailing how green economy projects and initiatives can create a new way to colonize Indigenous Peoples’ lands and territories. 

Darío José Mejía Montalvo, of the Zenú Tribe in Colombia, participated in the January meeting and has chaired a previous UNPFII. He highlighted the report during a U.N. session last week. 

“The transition toward a green economy [keeps] starting from the same extractivist-based logic that prioritizes the private sector, which is guided by national economic interests of multinationals, which ignores the fights of Indigenous people, the fight against climate change, and the fight against poverty,” Montalvo said, according to a U.N. translation of a speech he delivered in Spanish. 

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Media Coverage around the Web

Hundreds of climate activists gathered at the global headquarters of Citigroup in New York on Wednesday to demand the banking giant stop financing fossil fuel companies. The protests come on the heels of a first-of-its-kind Earth Day hearing where environmental activists from around the world gathered in New York this week to condemn what they call Citigroup’s environmental racism.  Click to read and watch.

Environmental justice leaders join together to educate and fight against big banks funding petrochemical projects

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TIME 100 named founder and director of RISE St. James, Ms. Sharon Lavigne, Most Influential People of 2024. Her community-organizing work speaks for itself. During Earth Week, Lavigne and other environmental justice leaders are traveling to New York City, New York to speak against banks and large funders like Citigroup, whom they accuse of funding environmental racism. 

According to Citigroup’s 2022 Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures Report, they are a top lender to fossil fuel energy corporations. In fact, according to Banking on Climate Chaos, Citigroup is the second-highest bank to finance fossil fuels globally, at 332.9 billion dollars. So, how committed is Citigroup to its net-zero emissions promise for the year 2050?

TRIBECA, Manhattan (WABC) — NYPD officers have arrested a number of demonstrators at an Earth Week climate protest outside the global headquarters of Citigroup in Tribeca.

A large number of NYPD officers were outside the building well before the demonstrators arrived.

And when they did, the situation quickly heated up quickly.

Activists were full of passion as they raised their voices, chanted and beat drums.

A number of them held a large sign outside that said, “Stop funding fossil fuels.”

Organizers describe themselves as part of a growing movement to increase pressure on big banks to stop funding the fossil fuel industry that they say is responsible for driving the climate crisis.

Police warned the activists that they would be removed as they flooded the entrance of the Citigroup building.

A short time later, they moved in and started arresting multiple participants.

Eyewitness News spoke with one man named Alec as he was about to be taken away by police.

“This summer is going to be the hottest summer ever recorded in human history,” he said. “We’re spending billions of dollars on a war that most Americans have never been to. We need to be spending that money on bringing housing to people who need it, on health care here. I want a future. I want your kids to have a future, and we need to fight for it or else we’re going to lose everything.”

Eyewitness News reached out to Citigroup that said in a statement it respects the right to protest, but activists can’t prevent people from entering the building:

“Citi respects the advocacy of climate advocates, and we are supporting the transition to a low carbon economy through our net zero commitments and our one trillion sustainable finance goal. our approach reflects the need to transition while also continuing to meet global energy needs. While we respect the right to protest, activists do not have the right to prevent people from entering our building. The activists were given the opportunity to protest peacefully but they chose to continue to prevent people from coming to work. The NYPD responded and restored access to our building to our employees and clients.”

A similar protest at Citigroup headquarters back in September resulted in 24 arrests.

The Indigenous Environmental Network is participating in this year’s 23rd Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). This year’s theme is “Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to Self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth.”

IEN’s 11-member delegation includes Indigenous youth from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Youth Council and the Huni Kui, an Indigenous community in Brazil’s Amazon. At this year’s UNPFII, Indigenous Peoples across the world will come together and present crucial recommendations on the six mandated areas of economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health, and human rights, as outlined, and referenced by the UNDRIP and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The Indigenous Environmental Network’s continued focus is stopping and preventing climate false solutions in international, national and local policy, this includes but is not limited to carbon markets and offsets, biodiversity offsets, carbon capture and storage, nature-based solutions, hydrogen and nuclear energy, climate geoengineering and much more. We advocate for keeping fossil fuels in the ground, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and protecting the sacredness of Mother Earth from contamination, exploitation, and by respecting and adhering to Indigenous Knowledge and Natural Law. 

Established in 1990 in the United States and Canada, IEN was formed by grassroots/community-based Indigenous Peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and Indigenous Tribal governments to develop mechanisms for environmental protection and health and to protect our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples, sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, human and ecological health, and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities; what we call Indigenous Just Transition. IEN accomplishes this by maintaining an informational clearinghouse, organizing with communities and developing campaigns, non-violent direct actions and comms-media and public awareness, training, building the capacity of community and Tribes to address EJ issues, development of initiatives to impact colonial policy, and building alliances and coalitions among Indigenous communities, Tribes, inter-Tribal and Indigenous organizations, People-of-Color/Black organizations, faith-based and women groups, youth, labor, 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, women, and youth throughout North America – and – globally.

The Indigenous Environmental Network’s Climate Justice Program (CJP) organizes our work with the UNPFII, UNCBD, the UNFCCC and other international fora. CJP focuses on research, education, and policy related to the impacts of climate change policy on Indigenous Peoples. Our presence as staff and community-based representation at the UN meetings is crucial to holding the line against the colonial-capitalist-corporate-patriarchal takeover of Mother Earth and Father Sky.



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