Preparing to make the 13-hour journey home to Minneapolis, I have several reflections on my COP26 experience in Glasgow, Scotland. While I am still unpacking much of this experience, I have come to understand the unfortunate and opportunistic agreement that is now known as the Glasgow Climate Pact.
As a delegate we were not afforded the opportunity to witness any negotiations, these were all closed door events. The moment we set foot on the conference grounds it was communicated that there were more representatives from oil and other extractive industries than there were from any other country, including the entire Indigenous delegation.
We were there to keep oil in the ground, but in the end, the climate pact does not include much of any language about a just transition away from fossil fuels. It does mention phasing out of coal, but this does little to keep us below 1.5 celsius. Indigenous rights were included in the language, however, they did not include language on Free and Prior Informed Consent of any development on or within Indigenous lands.
Carbon offsets and carbon trading, which will further disenfranchise Indigenous peoples from the protected biodiversity of our lands will continue to be a flashpoint, one that our Indigenous people will never stop fighting for. We went to COP26 with several demands on how Indigenous peoples and our lands need to be respected, demands that Indigenous rights and land rights be observed so that we can appropriately steward our lands for future generations.
Going to sleep and preparing to go to the airport tonight, I know that I will prepare for the next COP in Egypt, to be with relatives and continue in the fight to protect our homelands. I am looking forward to being home, my feet on the homelands of my Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples. It is with tremendous gratitude and appreciation that I leave Edinburgh, Scotland. Knowing that there is a movement, held with conviction, and that Indigenous peoples of our world are the key to climate justice, gives me hope for our planet.
Kyle Hill is Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dept. of Indigenous Health and Associate Faculty at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for American Indian Health. He is a member of Climate Generation’s Window into COP26 Delegation this November. His primary area of research is Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledges, cultural engagement and how these practices are critical for both, health equity within Indigenous communities and adaptation/mitigation of climate change. Learn more about Kyle and subscribe to follow his experience at COP26.