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Listen to the voice of indigenous people

· An extension of the Kyoto Protocol minimum aim of Durban ·

No one knows the environment and land more than indigenous populations. In the area near the North Pole, for example, it is these populations which have raised the alarm about the diminishment of the ice layer or longer summers. Similarly, the populations of the Amazon have been the primary sentinels in the battle against deforestation. At the opening of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which began yesterday in Durban, South Africa, various voices asked that the knowledge offered by indigenous people be taken into consideration.

Indigenous people, in fact, are the population which cause the least ecological damage but are the most vulnerable to climate change and suffer the consequences of the impact on the environment caused by, for example, cultivations for bio-fuels and hydroelectric dams.

190 delegations from countries and organizations around the world are meeting in Durban to renew the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding international treaty to reduce pollution emissions. The first phase of the treaty is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2012. The United States and China, together responsible for nearly half of the emissions, have not signed on to the agreement. The European Union has let it be known that they hope to achieve an extension of the agreement, but deep divides still exist.

Experts look with distrust on the divisions within the UNFCCC. “Finding a practicable way to move ahead in a situation this complex, is the question to define in this conference,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC.

More industrialized countries want to obtain a revision of the quotas of emission to be cut after 2012, in the attempt to widen responsibility to emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa. If a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol fails – even through the minimal options of extension or a transitory regime until 2020 - the effort to slow climate change will depend in the immediate future on the voluntary actions of individual countries.

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April 24, 2019

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