November 2, 2021 Editor

Highlighting “Absolute Carbon Reduction Is an ‘Issue of Life and Death’ for Indigenous Peoples”


, Democracy Now!

Published November 2, 2021

photo above:

WN: Tom Goldtooth (Native American environmental, climate, and economic justice activist, speaker, film producer, and Indigenous rights leader within the climate and environmental justice and indigenous movement) sums up the challenge:

Traditional knowledge means that the government is going to have to wake up and have to cut emissions at source, keep fossil fuels in the ground, and restore and maintain our healthy ecosystems of biodiversity.

Is there any hope of that?!


Countries attending the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow have made new pledges to cut their emissions, but activists say it’s not enough to avert the worst of the climate crisis. India has vowed to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2070. Over 100 leaders have agreed to end deforestation by 2030. The United States is announcing a new plan to reduce methane emissions, among other measures. Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, is in Glasgow for the talks and warns the heavy focus on “net zero” rather than absolute carbon reductions suggests leaders are not planning to make serious changes. “It’s a continuing war against Mother Earth, against Father Sky,” says Goldtooth. “It is an issue of life and death to many of our Indigenous peoples, from the north to the south.” Climate campaigner Bill McKibben says the movement to divest from fossil fuels has had a major impact but that business interests are still holding back a transition to renewable energy. “Money is the oxygen on which the fires of global warming keep burning,” says McKibben.

Please view the interview with Mr. Goldtooth:


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’d like to bring in Tom Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Welcome to Democracy Now! Tom, your reaction to the opening of COP26? What do you see? Is it a failure already at the start? And your perspective from the point of view of what Indigenous folks want out of this summit?

. . . oil giants, like Shell, like BP, like ExxonMobil . . . are climate criminals, and we’re concerned that this Conference of the Parties is continuing to be a conference of the polluters.

TOM GOLDTOOTH: Well, Bill said something about a lot of the team players at the corporate and the country level having their war game plans. And this is what we’ve seen as Indigenous peoples for these 26 years. I’ve been coming to these COPs since the fourth, COP number four. And, you know, it’s a continuing war against Mother Earth, against Father Sky. The violence that’s perpetuated with the continuation of the dumping of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, greenhouse gases, carbon, it’s insane. The bathtub’s overflowing. It has to stop. Our Indigenous delegation that’s here and the ones that are still coming here, we’re saying, “Hey, you know, this has got to stop,” for our communities, our Indigenous nations and communities from the United States.

And so are the lives of — well, we know that breathing the combustion products of fossil fuels, from a big study released a few weeks ago, kills 8.7 million people a year on this planet. That’s one death in five. It’s bigger than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria of, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, Bill McKibbenlink to his pieces in The New Yorker, his weekly climate newsletter.

You know, President Biden is here. Some heard his presentation on the screen. He’s continuing a U.S. legacy, a U.S. legacy of broken treaties. In his run for presidency, he said he’s going to uphold the treaties of our Indigenous nations and stop leasing public lands to the fossil fuel polluters. Instead, he has failed to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, he’s failed to stop the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, and with an agenda of supercharging oil and gas, leasing on pipelines and waters. This has to stop. The frontlines to Washington, to Glasgow, we’re telling Biden to reject Big Oil lies, ban federal oil and gas leasing, and stop the federal climate catastrophe. This has to stop.

We need to change the civilization model we have and head towards an alternative model, an alternative to capitalism, which is the concept of living properly together in harmony with Mother Earth.Bolivian President Luis Arce

But one of the things that we’re here to really lift up is this false solutions around net zero agenda. There’s no problem about us pushing for a zero agenda in emissions, but when they slide in the word “net,” that’s when it really is problematic. And it’s a process in what we see of not really cutting emissions at source. And it’s the main buzzword here, “net zero emissions,” “nature-based solutions.” And net zero has nothing to do with reducing to zero — reducing emissions to zero. It has nothing to do about cutting emissions at source at the level that we need to restrict the warming above 1.5 Celsius. It’s very critical. It is an issue of life and death to many of our Indigenous peoples, from the north to the south. So that’s why we’re here to amplify that voice.

Please click on: Absolute Carbon Reduction

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.