Teen who pushed for Indigenous rights at COP25 disappointed

Story by CBC Kids News • 2019-12-19 10:19

World leaders delayed decision on carbon markets

When it came to negotiating a climate deal at COP25 in Madrid last week, there was no agreement on the main issue — but that’s not why Ta’Kaiya Blaney was disappointed.

Ta’Kaiya, 18, is an Indigenous teen from the Tla’amin First Nation in B.C. who was attending the conference “to push for the inclusion of Indigenous rights in climate solutions,” she told CBC Kids News.

Ta’Kaiya said she was disappointed because she felt Indigenous issues were overlooked.

“I think it's a bit of a disappointment because, you know, we're working on such a tight timeline when it comes to climate change,” she said. “There's no recognized value of Indigenous peoples’ rights.”

“We witness changes in the environment in a very direct way that impacts our ability to hunt and feed ourselves,” Ta’Kaiya said.

Ta’Kaiya’s role was to participate in panels, press conferences and negotiations — meaning she was there to observe and put pressure, but she didn’t have a say in what got done.

Two Indigenous protesters with face paint hold signs. One reads

Indigenous activists from all over the world, including the Amazon in South America, protested at COP25. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

“The solutions that [world leaders are] putting forward basically don't have protections for Indigenous peoples,” she said, “and it allows the same companies that have been exploiting our lands and contributing to climate change to continue to exploit our lands with no change being made.”

Indigenous voices resonated

Jennifer Allen attended COP25 for an organization called IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) and was there to take notes and provide reports on the events of COP25.

She said that the Indigenous groups’ voices resonated among some decision-makers.

Jennifer Allen said countries could not agree on most of the big issues at COP25. (Submitted by Jennifer Allen)

“I think it helped the countries that are pushing for more climate ambition and climate action,” said Allen, who estimates that she’s been to about 16 climate conferences.

With regards to issues like Indigenous rights, “there was more talk of that at this conference and more debate than I've seen at least in the last couple of years,” she said.

Key decision postponed

But in the end, one of the key goals of COP25 was not achieved and world leaders walked away with their work unfinished.

It relates to Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement, which was reached in 2015.

One of the key decisions around carbon markets was postponed until next year.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was disappointed in the outcome of COP25, but vowed to keep working toward a solution. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

What are carbon markets?

It’s a way for countries to benefit if they reduce their emissions more than others, by selling credits to those countries that are falling behind.

Allen compared it to a video game, where players can sell tokens or extra lives to players who are losing the game.

A kid holding up her hands, with an eye painted on it.

Young activists from around the world, including Canada, attended the COP25 conference in Madrid. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International's executive director, blamed Brazil and Saudi Arabia for standing in the way of an agreement.

Allen said Canada found itself in the middle.

“I didn't see Canada really blocking anything. I also didn't see them really standing out and taking a leadership role, either,” she said.

Another approach needed

Ta’Kaiya doesn’t believe that countries should be making these arrangements in the first place.

A large group of Indigenous activists

Ta’Kaiya Blaney, bottom row, second from left, attended COP25 as part of Indigenous Climate Action’s delegation. (indigenousclimateaction/Instagram)

“It’s using our lands to extract [oil and gas] and using our lands to offset [emissions] without any actual reductions to emissions,” she said.

She would prefer that countries come up with non-market solutions to fight climate change.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC

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