Climate 411

Indigenous Peoples face challenges to effective participation in international climate policy forums

This post was coauthored by Bärbel Henneberger.

Versión en español.

Opening of LCIPP meeting at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, December 2019.

Opening of LCIPP meeting at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, December 2019. UNclimatechange/Flickr

The negative impacts of COVID-19 span beyond direct health effects, particularly among Indigenous Peoples—who have been among the most drastically impacted by the pandemic. Human rights violations have skyrocketed and environmental conflicts have intensified, forcing Indigenous communities to grapple with these circumstances and what they mean for their ability to continue participating in political processes integral to advocacy for their rights and equality.

COVID-19 has prevented Indigenous Peoples from participating in person at the international climate change negotiations convened by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as these have been postponed or moved online. The presence of Indigenous Peoples at these negotiations ensure that human rights are central to all discussions, and also help reduce the possible negative environmental and social impacts of new international policies. Their perspectives are key to painting an accurate picture of what is happening on the ground in their territories, and how climate change is already having a significant impact on their way of life.

The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

Ensuring the effective and active participation of Indigenous Peoples, both physically and virtually, so that they may raise their concerns and contribute to this process is one of the main priorities of the Indigenous movement. A key avenue through which Indigenous Peoples can participate in the UNFCCC process is the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP).

Read More »

Also posted in Forest protection, United Nations / Comments are closed

COVID-19, protecciones ambientales debilitadas y violaciones a los derechos amenazan los territorios indígenas y las áreas protegidas de la Amazonía

Esta publicación fue corredactada por Bärbel Henneberger.

English version.

Hombre Kichwa cruzando el Río Arajuno, Amazonia Ecuatoriana. Bärbel Henneberger

Los Pueblos Indígenas que habitan en la Amazonía son conocidos como “guardianes de los bosques” debido a su eficacia para mantenerlos intactos. Los territorios indígenas y las áreas protegidas conjuntamente cubren el 52% de la Amazonía y almacenan el 58% del carbono, superando así a las tierras circundantes en términos de almacenamiento de carbono y limitando las emisiones netas de carbono, según un estudio publicado en la revista Proceedings of the National Academy of Science a principios de año.

Aun así, los territorios indígenas y las áreas protegidas se enfrentan a nuevas amenazas. Los líderes indígenas de la Amazonía informan del incremento de casos de violación de sus derechos. Las invasiones por parte de los mineros, ganaderos y madereros ilegales que invaden las tierras indígenas protegidas quedan en la impunidad y, al parecer, todos ellos se sienten alentados por las declaraciones de los líderes políticos y los esfuerzos legislativos para permitir en los territorios indígenas nuevas concesiones mineras.

Las concesiones para la extracción de petróleo y minería otorgados por los gobiernos se superponen a cerca de una cuarta parte de los territorios indígenas reconocidos, lo que aumenta sustancialmente su vulnerabilidad a los impactos adversos.

Al momento el COVID-19 agrava estas amenazas en un escenario en que las autoridades nacionales no han podido patrullar las reservas naturales y territorios indígenas con la frecuencia requerida; situación que las organizaciones criminales y madereros ilegales han estado usando a su favor.

Read More »

Also posted in Forest protection, International / Comments are closed

COVID-19, weakened environmental protections, and rights infringements threaten the Amazon’s Indigenous territories and protected areas

This post was coauthored by Bärbel Henneberger.

Versión en español.

Kichwa man crossing Arajuno River, Ecuadorian Amazon. Bärbel Henneberger

Indigenous communities living in the Amazon rainforest are known as the ‘guardians of the forest’ because of their effectiveness in keeping forests intact. Indigenous territories and protected areas, which cover 52 percent of the Amazon and store 58 percent of the carbon, outperform surrounding lands in terms of storing carbon and limiting net carbon emissions, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science earlier this year.

But now Indigenous territories and protected areas are under threat. Indigenous leaders in the Amazon are reporting increasing instances of a violation of their rights. Miners, ranchers and illegal loggers who encroach on protected Indigenous land face impunity, and are apparently encouraged by statements from political leaders and legislative efforts to open territorial land to new mining concessions.

Further, government concessions for oil extraction and mining overlap almost a quarter of all recognized territorial land, substantially increasing their vulnerability to adverse impacts.

COVID-19 is compounding these threats, as authorities haven’t been able to patrol nature preserves and Indigenous territories as often— a situation that criminal organizations and illegal loggers have been using to their advantage.

Read More »

Also posted in Forest protection / Comments are closed

As Amazon deforestation rises, so does the need for urgent action

Deforestation in the Amazon. iStock.

The year 2020 was expected to be a “super year” for global action on climate change. Instead, it’s become an “extraordinary year” for a global community trying to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst this backdrop, deforestation throughout the Amazon has been rising steadily, jumping 55% in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This is no coincidence. Loggers, miners, land-grabbers and individuals clearing land for soy and livestock are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to illegally clear the forest.

Enforcement of forest protection was already severely weakened across the Amazon, due in part to anti-environmental leadership and rhetoric, such as that of President Bolsonaro in Brazil. The virus has forced many of the field agents responsible for keeping forest invaders out to retreat, making it virtually impossible to enforce environmental laws and leaving these areas open to destruction. As we enter fire season, deforestation could get much worse due to warmer than average sea surface temperatures which could exacerbate the spread of fires. It all makes for a “perfect storm” that is threatening the Amazon forest and is already having disastrous impacts on the Indigenous communities who depend on forests.

Increased deforestation will jeopardize the rainforest’s rich biodiversity and extensive carbon stocks. It’s pushing the Amazon closer to the tipping point where deforestation will be irreversible. And it’s hindering global climate change mitigation efforts.

If the global community is going to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, Convention on Biological Diversity, the New York Declaration on Forests and other frameworks, then countries and companies need to prioritize forest protection.

Read More »

Also posted in Brazil, Forest protection, International, Jobs, REDD+ / Comments are closed

California releases updated Tropical Forest Standard: Here are the highlights and why CARB should endorse it

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) this week released an updated version of the proposed Tropical Forest Standard (TFS) for consideration at its September 19 Board meeting. CARB made some important changes to the TFS in response to feedback from members of the California Assembly, indigenous leaders, environmental groups, environmental justice advocates, and subject-matter experts.

Endorsement of the TFS would value tropical forests for the extensive climate benefits they provide. It would also be a major step forward for tropical forests and the communities who live in and defend them. And these proposed changes would make the TFS even stronger in the fight against tropical deforestation.

In general, the changes CARB has made – responding to public and policymaker feedback – add detail and clarity that strengthen the accountability built into the TFS. The more specificity, the easier it is to ensure the standard is upheld and ultimately helps deliver the emission reductions from stopping tropical deforestation that the climate so desperately needs.

Here are the key changes to the proposal. (A Tropical Forest Standard refresher may be helpful before diving in.)

Read More »

Also posted in California, Carbon Markets, Forest protection / Read 1 Response

When it comes to avoiding deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, new study reveals that federal and state agencies have had different outcomes

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus. Photo by Neal Palmer via Flickr.

(This post was co-written by study co-author Alex Pfaff)

Protecting the Amazon rainforest is critical for mitigating climate change and meeting other global environmental goals. This vast but threatened ecosystem provides essential services like carbon storage, watershed protection and species habitat. Protecting these global services using a range of environmental strategies could justify significant climate finance, green supply chain investments, and other economic opportunities for Brazil.

Brazil made significant strides in reducing deforestation between 2004 and 2012, all while increasing agricultural production. Many heralded Brazil as a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, deforestation did not drop evenly across the Amazon. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we seek to understand why forest protection efforts in the Brazilian Amazon differed in their impacts, across the region, with a focus on the government agency in charge.

Read More »

Also posted in Brazil, Forest protection / Comments are closed