Local Arapaho Environmentalist attends UN Climate Negotiations

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h/t Micah “Big Wind” Carpenter-Lott for the photos

Northern Arapaho Tribal young person Micah “Big Wind” Carpenter-Lott recently joined the SustainUs’s first all-Indigenous youth delegation for the 25th Convening of Parties (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. During those two weeks, they had the opportunity to attend and intervene on behalf of the International Indigenous Peoples Caucus, speak on three forums, and participate in ceremonies.

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The SustainUs Indigenous youth delegation returned home last week with plans to offset the carbon emissions of their own tribes with projects within their own communities while sharing the valuable teachings they learned in the COP25 space, Micah shared. “We went to the UN to share the stories of our communities, share our dreams for a more just and sustainable, now we must offset any damage we have caused to the environment as we come back to share the lessons with our communities, so we left and came back in a good way. Hii3eti!”

Primarily growing up and currently residing in Arapahoe, Wyoming, Micah shared during the forums the problems they see coming quickly to the Wind River Range if Wyoming neglects to formalize a Climate Mitigation Plan soon. “Wyoming will experience not only micro droughts but average temperatures much like Texas within the next 30-50 years. In fact, we are seeing some effects today with the ever-rapid melt of our glaciers, vulnerable habitats threatening species like the sage grouse and pronghorn antelope, and there is an overwhelming consensus that equates this change with our greenhouse gas emissions.”

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During the International Indigenous Peoples Caucus, in front of countries and the COP25 President, while they discussed goals on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Micah shared how they have witnessed these effects first hand and as an indigenous youth shared a message to the round table. “In 2020, we need more than minimum target ambitions. We need results. Ambition is also not the same as praxis. The NDC process needs to utilize shared solutions, blended knowledge, and countries need structural change so we can meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.”

“With the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord this year, it sent a clear message to countries least responsible yet heavily impacted by climate change; We aren’t serious about climate change mitigation. Developed nations collectively are causing 80% of the global carbon emissions without fully financing the energy transition, and reinstating low ambitions for NDC plans while developing and more vulnerable nations are wanting the opposite from global leaders in developed nations.”

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Objectives for COP25 fell short, and parties were unable to agree. Negotiations focused on how countries were to calculate carbon offsets, find funding for loss and damage, and make revisions to Article 6 of the Paris Climate Rule Book. The negotiations extended out through Sunday, December 15th, longer than ever before. “There were massive demonstrations both inside and outside COP25, with a 500,000 person march calling for more action and less talk from all politicians and corporations, and a cross-constituency unsanctioned rally that led police to remove over 150 UN observers from inside the venue,” Micah explained.

“In the midst of the 6th mass extinction, we all have to take steps towards a more equitable and feasible future that requires bold action. Global inaction on climate change is creating catastrophic climate apartheid in which protects the polluters, and the people with fewer resources causing the least pollution are experiencing the most burden all around the world.”

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