‘Voices’ for Mother Earth ejected from climate convention

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Indian Country Toda, Cancun, Mexico

The U.N. Forum Convention on Climate Change denied entry to Indigenous Environmental Network Executive Director Tom Goldtooth Dec. 8 after a protest with chanting by non-Native participants arose a day earlier in the halls of the Moon Palace, site of the official U.N. climate convention. The convention is hosting 194 countries to further negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, and climate-related issues.


The peaceful demonstration was sparked as Goldtooth and representatives of Friends of the Earth International, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and their allies expressed frustration over the failure of the COP negotiations to address central issues of reducing CO2 emissions during a press conference hosted by Global Justice Ecology Project and La Via Campesina.

The negotiations, Goldtooth said, had become a “trade show for promoting false solutions and generating capital.” When he returned to the Moon Palace the following day, he was removed from the grounds and his accreditation as a member of civil society was revoked.

A Dec. 9 IEN press release that followed said the accreditation of a dozen others representing civil societies had also been revoked. However, Goldtooth also said his accreditation was reinstated thanks to the intervention of Gustavo Torres from the Mexican government with the UNFCCC secretariat security, and support from other allies.

“Both inside and outside the U.N. process the voices of indigenous peoples, social movements and the communities most directly affected by our fossil fuel dependency must continue to be heard as we reject false solutions like the carbon market mechanisms of REDD,” Goldtooth said.

“We demand that the Cochabama People’s Agreement be acknowledged as a path forward towards addressing the real solutions to the climate crisis based in traditional indigenous knowledge, community-based practices, indigenous and human rights and the rights of Mother Earth,” he said.

Representatives of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and Youth 4 Climate Justice who were also ejected said they were from communities disproportionately affected by climate disruption, and were drawing attention to the serious dangers of false solutions such as REDD and the carbon market.

The UNFCCC “silenced our voices,” they said in a joint statement. “By penalizing and ejecting us as individuals the U.N. is also silencing the collective voices of our communities. We stand firmly rooted in our principles to lift the voices of women, young people, and indigenous peoples throughout the world and to advance the real solutions to cooling the planet found in our grassroots movements.”

Their impromptu protest coincided with the thousands who marched in Cancun and in 300 cities around the world in the “1,000 Cancúns Global Day of Action for Climate Justice” organized by La Via Campesina, an international federation of peasant and smallholder farmers.

While the La Via Campesina is a-political, allies such as migrant workers and environmental activists marched to condemn the “false solutions and backroom deals” unfolding in the negotiations.

For updates visit the environmental blog, Mother Earth Journal.