This report is predicated on a simple fact: The world is delving deeper into climate chaos, and we must change course. In parallel to the severe threats Mother Earth is facing from climate change, the rights, well-being, and survival of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world are at grave risk due to the same extractive industries driving the climate crisis.
Indigenous peoples continue to exert social and moral authority to protect their homelands from oil and gas development. Coupling these expressions with the legal authority of Indigenous Rights, frontline communities and Tribal Nations have made tangible progress stemming fossil fuel expansion. This progress is inevitably accompanied by resisters demand nothing less than systemic change that threatens the accumulated wealth of the settler- colonial institutions that have stolen Indigenous lands, used Black and Indigenous labor to extract resources from that land, and erected systems of inequity to maintain control for centuries.
To protect against these threats and undo systemic inequities embedded in society, our leaders must recognize the Self-Determination and inherent sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples to decide what happens in their own territories. These principles can only be implemented by clear policies and processes requiring governments to consult with Indigenous Nations and their peoples to obtain Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
The United States and Canada must recognize their duty to consult and obtain consent from Indigenous Peoples for all projects proposed on Indigenous lands. In parallel, these settler nation- state governments must recognize that the fossil fuel era is rapidly coming to a close. Our climate cannot afford new oil, gas, or coal projects of any kind; phasing out existing fossil fuel infrastructure will already be a monumental challenge.
Indigenous resistance to carbon is both an opportunity and an offering — now is the time to codify the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, to safeguard both the climate and Indigenous Rights.
RCMP forcefully remove Wet’suwet’en Land Defender. Photo by Amber Bracken/The Narwhal.