From Karen Thomas in Glasgow
Indigenous rights campaigners yesterday urged COP26 parties to stop financing extractive industries in the Amazon region by 2025 and to protect the rainforest’s remaining 80 per cent to avert a climate tipping point.
Peruvian Indigenous campaigner Jorge Perez, Kichwa leader Maricela Yuri Gualinga Santi and Ecuadorian youth activist Helena Gualinga joined Amazon Watch and Stand Earth, pressing global financiers and investors to stop funding oil, gas and extractive industries in the Amazon rainforest.
New research shows that many parts of the Amazon biome now emit more carbon than they absorb. The worst-hit areas are transitioning from rainforest to savannah. Some 22 per cent of the Amazon is now deforested or degraded.
“There is no more time,” Helena Gualinga said. “We do not have until 2030 or 2050 – we need to invest in protecting the rainforest now. To protect it for all of us.”
Campaigners urged global banks to stop funding oil and gas expansion in the Amazon and to exit all loans, letters of credit and revolving credit facilities to all oil and gas trading in the Amazon biome by year-end 2022, and to end all oil and gas activity in the region by year-end 2025.
“It’s time to listen to Indigenous peoples,” said Amazon Watch executive director Leila Salazar-Lopez. “The Amazon and our global climate are now in a state of emergency. We are running out of time to avert catastrophic climate chaos. This year’s COP is one of the most exclusive and inequitable in history, leaving key voices of indigenous peoples out of the conversation.”
The message is having an impact. This week the Dutch bank ING pledged to halt new funding to Ecuador and Peru. BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Intesa and Natixis have made similar pledges to the region.
And in September members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) approved an Indigenous-led motion to back the 80 by 25 campaign, backing calls for a global pact to protect the world’s largest tropical forest. This is the first time that the international community has upheld an Indigenous-led call for action.
However, no major bank has committed yet to withdraw all funding for oil and gas industries in the Amazon.
“ING’s new commitment focuses on Peru, where many Indigenous land defenders have been killed – and which has Indigenous people living in voluntary isolation, who are at increased risk from oil drilling and spills,” said Tzeporah Berman, founder of the Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Initiative.
Arctic Indigenous groups having campaigned successfully to halt new drilling, setting a precedent to protect the Amazon on similar grounds, she said.
The campaigners singled out JP Morgan Chase and UBS for criticism. Both have signed up to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which represents 40 per cent of the world’s financial assets and which pledged yesterday to deliver the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.
“It is not possible for us to combat climate change without addressing the root cause, which is the fossil fuel industry,” Helena Gualinga said. “We need commitments from governments and from banks. We need commitments from everyone that has the power to change.”
l-r, Salazar-Lopez, Perez, Helena Gualinga, Yuri Gualinga Santi and Berman
More newsy bits from #COP26 @KT_environment
Whether you are studying, actively looking to progress your career, or already extensively experienced, our membership will add value and recognition to your achievements. We can actively help you progress throughout your career.Become a member
We organise a wide portfolio of UK and international thought leading events, providing an industry recognised forum for debate, CPD and sector networking. These events also support our policy work and inform key initiatives.View our events