Climate Clock celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ contribution to combatting climate change

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Indigenous Lifeline (Climate Clock)
Indigenous Lifeline (Climate Clock)

Launched in Union Square, New York in September 2020, the clock’s “Deadline” counts down to the seven-year critical time period to reach zero emissions while the “Lifeline” tracks global progress made on environmental solutions.

Now, three weeks before COP26, the new “Lifeline” dedicated to Indigenous People reads: “43.5 million km² land protected by Indigenous People”.

 (Climate Clock)
(Climate Clock)

This refers to all of the land and inland waters that are managed globally by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (ILPCs) according to a report from June this year by the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Wildlife Fund and the Landmark Global Platform for Indigenous and Community Lands.

Diana Sabillón, a research specialist at Climate Clock says: “The Climate Clock has been a powerful tool for people demanding just solutions to the climate crisis. We can’t talk about Climate Justice without highlighting the importance of guaranteeing the rights and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples to secure a habitable future for all.”

Although they make less than five per cent of the world’s population, “Indigenous People protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity, and many of our largest carbon sinks are because of how they manage their resources,” says Sabillón.

The “Lifeline” is one step towards recognising the efforts of the Indigenous People.

Karai Djekupe Guarani (Raul de Lima)
Karai Djekupe Guarani (Raul de Lima)

Karai Djekupe Guarani, a leader of the Guarani People of Brazil, says that “besides the white, European way of living, there are other ways of living that need to be respected, including ours.”

Research has shown that Indigenous People have played a vital role in helping the planet’s natural carbon sequestration processes. The Rights and Resources Initiative found that ILPCs manage 300,000 million metric tonnes of carbon stored in trees and soil under their care – the equivalent to 33 times the world’s energy emissions as in 2017.

In the Amazon basin, indigenous lands have a higher carbon density per hectare than in non-indigenous areas.

19-year-old climate justice activist Xiye Bastida says that growing up in an Otomi-Toltec Indigenous community taught her to respect the earth: “Land stewarded by Indigenous People is essential to preserving biodiversity and removing carbon from the atmosphere so as to reduce the effects of climate change.”

Xiye Bastida (Raul de Lima)
Xiye Bastida (Raul de Lima)

ILPCs efforts are “a critical line of defence in the fight against climate change,” says Sabillón.

As Monday 11 October saw the “Lifeline” being introduced to the Climate Clock, a portable version made an appearance in Washington DC, where it was carried to the White House during a protest concerning Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice.

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