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First Nations Climate Initiative to Bring Indigenous-Led Solutions to COP28

By December 12, 2023June 18th, 2024News

Nations call for a just transition to simultaneously tackle decarbonization, decolonization and the restoration and recovery of ecosystems

 

The Respective Territories of the Haisla Nation, Nisga’a Nation, Metlakatla First Nation and Halfway River First Nation, November 22, 2023 – Today, the First Nations Climate Initiative announced that—for the second year in a row—it is joining the Government of Canada’s official delegation at COP, the annual United Nations climate change conference hosted this year in Dubai from November 30 – December 12.

The FNCI will be presenting its vision and policy framework for a just energy transition that simultaneously advances decarbonization, reconciliation aims, First Nations economic self-determination and the repair and recovery of ecosystems that restore traditional and cultural values.

Building on the success of the FNCI’s participation at 2022’s COP27 conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt—where the First Nations group focused on its then newly released Climate Action Plan, which lays out seven policy and investment proposals for achieving decarbonization and decolonization in tandem—the FNCI’s goals for COP28 are to:

  • Showcase how the FNCI is taking action on climate change in significant ways

  • Advance nature-based solutions that protect and restore the land, which are critical to overcoming the complex challenges facing First Nations, other Indigenous Peoples and society at large

·       Promote renewable energy transmission and generation infrastructure that can power the low-carbon industries that will be the foundation of our decarbonized economies

  • Discuss pathways for globally significant climate action and the prospects for exporting low-carbon fuels and other resources to help meet needs internationally with low or no GHG emissions energy solutions

  • Discuss pathways to put climate and economic reconciliation into action together, consistent with the adoption of UNDRIP in Canada and provincially in B.C.

  • Raise awareness of how First Nations-led climate solutions and ownership of decarbonized energy infrastructure are needed for a just transition to net zero and a recovering climate

The FNCI delegation is presenting at the UN conference’s Canada Pavilion in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Day 5, December 4. Presenters include:

·       Darlene Hunter, elected Chief, Halfway River First Nation

·       David Myers, Technical Representative, Halfway River First Nation

·       Candice Wilson, Environmental Manager, Haisla Nation

·       Barry Nikal, Hereditary Chief, Wet’suwet’en

·       Alex Grzybowski, Facilitator, First Nations Climate Initiative

These leaders and experts will take their place amongst other Indigenous leaders from around the world as knowledge holders with traditional and cultural values oriented towards protecting nature.

A Just Transition for Indigenous Peoples

Though Canada is a wealthy nation, First Nations Peoples live with poverty and inequality every day.

The prosperity that exists today in Canada is due in large part to the exploitation of the abundance of natural resources in the traditional territories of Canada’s First Peoples. For generations, Nations have suffered the impacts of the extraction of their resources without their consent. The cumulative impacts have resulted in the decline of fish, wildlife and plant species that are essential elements of their culture. The loss of wild foods, medicines, cultural identity and traditional livelihoods creates poverty and despair.

And now climate change is threatening to further erode the ecological foundations of their cultures. However, there are nature-based climate solutions that can reverse the degradation of these foundations and help recover the climate.

 Working in collaboration with experts from the private and public sectors and other levels of government, the FNCI is advancing a policy framework that will channel investment into the restoration and protection of ecosystems while expediting the achievement of net zero and negative emissions, and a recovering climate thereafter. This framework positions First Nations as the co-owners of the infrastructure of the future decarbonized economy and leaders in the recovery of the ecosystems everyone depends upon.

Act Globally and Benefit Locally for a Shared Future

Reducing emissions in B.C. and Canada won’t solve the climate crisis. International collaboration is needed to action climate solutions.

The FNCI is calling for federal and provincial governments to adopt policies and enter international partnerships that ensure that Canadian low-carbon resources and emerging decarbonized fuels contribute directly to GHG reductions and decarbonization in the countries that are our trading partners.

Together with First Nations, B.C. and Canada have the capacity to help other countries with much greater emission profiles to reduce their GHG emissions. In particular, partnerships with Asian countries are an opportunity to provide climate solutions to the world while creating a prosperous economy at home. B.C. can have an outsized impact by leveraging its low-carbon advantages and emerging zero emissions—and negative-emissions—energy systems to build energy and resource projects that are global leaders in climate management and mitigation.

Nature-based Solutions Rooted in Traditional Environmental Stewardship

Nature-based solutions are a cornerstone in global efforts to mitigate climate change and they are a key opportunity for First Nations and other levels of Government to work together on a globally significant scale through the protection and creation of carbon sinks.

The FNCI has worked with seven First Nations across northern B.C. who have identified eight million hectares in their traditional territories as places to implement nature-based solutions. The organization has identified buyers ready to purchase millions of tons of high-quality offsets—those that are verified, additional and credible—from First Nations nature-based solution projects in B.C.

Now, the FNCI Nations are calling on other governments to establish the regulatory framework to enable this to happen in order to achieve net zero as quickly as possible.

Renewable Energy Transmission and Generation an Important Opportunity

Many First Nations communities are not on the electricity grid and still rely on diesel generation. This lack of access to clean, reliable and affordable energy means regular blackouts, undependable service, air and noise pollution and barriers to economic opportunity.

The FNCI supported the establishment of K’uul Power, a new First Nations organization that is playing a leadership role in the development of the renewable energy transmission and generation infrastructure needed to support decarbonization and First Nations economic self-determination in northwest B.C. This includes the electrification of projects that will provide much-needed low-carbon resources and new zero-emission energy to the world. The FNCI envisions that the Ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat will soon be decarbonized fuel providers for marine and land-based transportation systems, and First Nations will be the owners of the energy systems.

Quotes

Darlene Hunter, elected Chief of Halfway River First Nation (FNCI Nation)

“Treaty promises were made to last as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows. But for decades, we’ve seen development degrade our lands without our consent. We are all responsible for protecting treaty rights. And when our sacred lands are destroyed, our way of life becomes harder. Nature-based solutions will help to protect and restore the ecosystems First Nations have always depended upon, giving us more opportunities for traditional activities and providing new economic opportunities. Our ancestors have lived off the land with a balance of give and take since time immemorial. We were taught by them, and we know what needs to be done to restore the balance of the natural world. We must, and we will, for the sake of ourselves, and future generations.”

Candice Wilson, Environnemental Manager, Haisla Nation (FNCI Nation)

“As Indigenous People, our knowledge and our culture are closely tied to the land. The health of our lands and our prosperity go hand in hand. We treat the land with respect. This is why Indigenous-led solutions need to be fundamental to all resource and energy decisions. We can’t be on the sidelines watching; our voices must be heard. Being at COP gives us the opportunity to showcase the work that we’re doing in our traditional territories and how ecosystem restoration is our key cultural driver in taking part in nature-based solutions projects.”

Barry Nikal, Hereditary Chief, Wet’suwet’en and a Founding Leader of K’uul Power

“First Nations are thinking about the welfare of their communities at home as well as the global community when it comes to expanding the transmission infrastructure in northwest B.C. And this time around, the future will not repeat the past. We intend it to be the greatest contributor to the future economy since the railroad, but this time to the benefit of us as First Peoples as well as to the global climate; to all Canadians as part of the FNCI Climate Action Plan; and to the world. Canada’s capacity to provide low carbon resources to the world relies on electrification. This is the new energy infrastructure.

The decarbonized economy of British Columbia depends on it. And we are not only going to be a part of it, we are going to own it.”