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Hard Choices and Climate Change

Published: April 4, 2008, Author: MHirch

The United Nations has convened and scheduled numerous meetings to address remedies to reduce the effects of Global Warming and needed human adaptations in response to impending climate change. The latest of these meetings has just ended in Bangkok, Thailand under the name: Adhoc Working Group – Climate Change.

States’ governments are beginning to consider new laws, regulations and policies aimed at ensuring their prosperity even as they tentatively take steps to reduce the adverse effects of Global Warming.

While states’ governments act through their multi-lateral organizations and in their own legislatures Fourth World nations prepare to complain about the adverse affects of Global Warming at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues beginning April 21 in New York City. The United Nations Permanent Forum meets as a side bar while others make decisions that directly affect the health, wealth and security of Fourth World peoples. Meanwhile, Fourth World peoples remain on the sidelines complaining about the serious threats and adverse affects of global warming caused by the very industrialization that ravaged Fourth World territories throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Despite the fact that 80% of the world’s biodiversity remains located in Fourth World territories, states governments and multi-lateral organizations act as if there are no Fourth World peoples who must be active participants in the global dialog. Fourth World peoples are the key to green territories remaining in the world. Again, despite this fact, Fourth World peoples have remained sidelined either by choice, temperament or simple exclusion.

When the Biodiversity Convention of 1994 was negotiated the same thing happened. Instead of seating themselves in the negotiating hall Fourth World peoples met in a facility more than a kilometer from the assembly hall holding the state “deciders”. The result of that Convention has been the decision of states’ government to share in the benefits of Fourth World nations’ resources without the consent of those nations.

The Kyoto Protocols didn’t include discussions about or by Fourth World peoples and their territories, yet the conclusion was for states’ governments to benefit from the green Fourth World territories without the consent of Fourth World nations.

The Climate Change negotiations just ended in Bangkok, Thailand have set an ambitious agenda intended to lead up to a new international agreement on global warming. The agenda themes for new negotiations will focus on adaptation, mitigation, research & technology, finance and “a shared vision for long-term cooperative action.” Three more meetings are scheduled for 2008 and probably four more in 2009.

The Bangkok meeting importantly decided to include “forest-related activities as a major emphasis for carbon emissions reductions.”

Now the stage is set for the states’ governments….but, notice that Fourth World nations are no where to be seen even though their forests, their jungles, their oceans, and soils are the most important part of carbon emissions sequestration debate.

Fourth World nations have very hard choices to make not only in the face of climate change, but in the face of disenfranchisement at the hands of states’ governments. Fourth World nations must stop complaining and take action to demand seats at the negotiating table. Proactive initiatives are necessary. Asking for sympathy from the very states that reap benefits from Fourth World territories without the consent of nations has not worked and won’t work.

The very existence of more than 500 million Fourth World peoples depends on the nations taking the initiative to shape the dialog and the direction of global climate change negotiations. Failure to do so means that Fourth World nations will accept the confiscation of their lands, their resources and their way of life or an untimely end at the hands of industrial pollution produced by a greedy and ignorant commercial system. The hard choice now is to act proactively and vigorously. Complaining at the lower steps of the United Nations achieves nothing.

Copyright 2008 Center for World Indigenous Studies

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