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Video – COP15 Followup – Tom Goldtooth, “How Can One Own the Air?”

Copenhagen, Dec 8, 2009

This video features Tom Goldtooth speaking to the media while Indigenous People representatives greeted participants at the entryway to the COP15 with ceremonial songs and banners. Here Tom raises questions which challenges a fundamental building block of the cap and trade model, which seeks to curtail carbon emissions by placing a price per ton on carbon emissions. He begins by asking “how can one own the air?”.

Excerpt: “You know, how can one own the air, how can one own the carbon, because whenever you trade anything in the world it’s a form of commodification then it becomes a property right. So that’s a violation of many Indigenous People’s cosmo vision. So you know many of our Indigenous Peoples are asking some serious questions, and even under REDD initiative, Reducing Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation, it’s moving like a fast train, bulldozing over many communities who still don’t know fully about what it’s about, but yet we’re being forced to accept these carbon market solutions, but the question is, will it save the planet at the end of the day, or is it just a mechanism to sort of bring billions of dollars into a market, and billions of dollars into polluters? You know and it allows the polluters of the North to continue to pollute and dump poisons and carbon into the atmosphere and greenwash and try to balance and offset by being able to get cheap carbon credits in the Global South, and that’s one area that we have many concerns, and why rights is the big issue. Rights of Indigenous Peoples have to be recognized, and one of the instruments that we’re pushing forward is the U.N. declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, has to be adopted and incorporated in the political declaration as a statement and any other negotiating texts, you know that insures a mechanism where Indigenous Peoples’ rights at least will be recognized.”

Report by James George