With a vacuum of federal leadership on climate change, California Governor Jerry Brown convened a first-of-its-kind Global Climate Action Summit in September to forge "deeper worldwide commitments" among global leaders. But the exclusive gathering failed to include those most impacted by the crisis, instead inviting some of the institutions most responsible for it. On the second day of the summit, hundreds of people representing frontline communities, environmental justice organizations, and indigenous groups blocked the entrance, risking arrest. They called out market-based schemes touted at the conference, such as carbon pricing, as false solutions to the climate crisis.
Among these is REDD+, an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, in which companies invest in environmental projects and forest preservation initiatives around the world to offset their own carbon footprint. But the program, according to Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, allows "corporations from developed countries to buy and sell indigenous lands as commodities, getting richer off of far-away lands 'preserved' in exchange for unmitigated carbon emissions at home."
The movement against REDD+ has roots that stretch back to 2005, when it was was first placed on the agenda at international climate change negotiations. At the United Nations 20th Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru, in 2014, indigenous peoples from across the globe, including activist and actress Tantoo Cardinal (left) of the Cree Nation and a climate leader Casey Camp-Horinek (center), a Ponca tribal council member, participate in an opening ceremony for a march to protest the conference's lack of indigenous representation.
Indigenous leaders and local community organizers block the entrance outside...