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“If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu”: Indigenous Activists Demand Role in Paris Climate Talks

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Across the world, indigenous and poor communities who have contributed least to carbon pollution are most often the most impacted by climate change, which which threatens their land, food supply and access to water. At the U.N. climate change summit in Paris, we speak with indigenous activists about the existential threat of climate change.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from Paris at the 21st U.N. climate change summit. Ahead of the summit, more than 170 nations submitted plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say the proposed targets end up falling far short of what is needed to mitigate against drastic heating of the planet, and that the agreements during the negotiations are not likely to be binding.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says if temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it could lead to catastrophic and irreversible impacts. If the world remains at the current levels of fossil fuel consumption and emissions, we’re on track for a rise of nearly 5 degrees. Scientists say this could lead to a collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, raising sea levels more than 20 feet, submerging island nations and coastal cities, including New York, Shanghai and London, underwater.

Across the world, indigenous and poor communities who have contributed least to carbon pollution are most often impacted by—the most in climate change, which is threatening their land, food supply and access to water. On Sunday, we spoke with indigenous activists, who were part of the human chain here in Paris, about the existential threat of climate change.

PROTESTERS: Liberté! Liberté! Liberté!

PROTESTER 1: As we speak, climate change is happening, and we cannot wait one year, two years, five years.

TOM GOLDTOOTH: This issue of climate change is a life-and-death issue.

PROTESTER 2: Shut down!

PROTESTERS: Coal!

PROTESTER 2: Shut down!

PROTESTERS: Coal!

PROTESTER 2: What do we want?

PROTESTER 3: If we don’t sort out climate change, our coastal communities and our island communities, they’re going to be underwater.

PROTESTER 2: If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. So, we want to be at the table.

PROTESTER 3: We need to have a binding agreement coming out of this thing. In the Pacific, we want the—you know, the differential in the temperature to be less than 2 degrees, so 1.5 to stay alive. That’s the message that we’re putting out there. A lot of our Pacific Island nations’ governments are alongside with indigenous peoples. There’s a lot of solidarity. There’s a lot of synergy in terms of the things that we want, because, basically, if we don’t sort out climate change, our coastal communities and our island communities, they’re going to be underwater.

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Naomi Klein on Paris Summit: Leaders’ Inaction on Climate Crisis is “Violence” Against the Planet

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