The Paris Climate Agreement Will Make Millions Homeless

Protecting forests may be a major goal of the Paris climate agreement, but it’s going to be disastrous for millions of people.

In the Paris Climate Agreement, representatives of almost 200 nations reached a landmark accord to lower greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change, yet their climate pledges fall short.

The developing countries will try to curb carbon emissions by setting aside forested areas as reserves. This would result in the displacement of millions of people who are living there.

The “historic” breakthrough at the end of last year that involved both rich and poor countries is committed to keeping warming below 2 degrees Celcius. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dubbed the 12-page Paris Climate Agreement as a monumental success for Earth and its inhabitants. "History will remember this day," he said. The question is how will history remember it, good or bad?

Experts are worried that creating national parks often involves removing the people who live in these areas, according the BCC.

Climate change activists were all smiles at the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in December 2015. Greenhouse advocates were thrilled.  But what did the deal say about the displacement of centuries-old tribal communities and forest dwellers? Nothing.

This is bad news for food security, indigenous people, tribal owners, smallholder farmers, and the land rights of rural communities or efforts to encourage an ecosystem-based approach to managing agricultural landscapes.


The agreement itself barely touches on these issues. It provides no alternative to millions of people who are currently occupying those lands. It makes no direct mention of agriculture, landscapes or land use at all. It mentions “the rights of indigenous peoples [and] local communities,” though not specifically to land or forests.  And it calls for the establishment of a “platform” for them to share “best practices on mitigation and adaptation” to climate change “in a holistic and integrated manner.”

In a nutshell, it’s totally ignoring the dangerous riots that will take place after the forest dwellers are forced to vacate the land they have inhabited for centuries.  

Analysts further believe that if poor countries in Africa, South East Asia and Latin America are forced to accept legally binding commitments to reduce their emissions, they may get dangerously close to irreversible and abrupt changes involving atmospheric aerosols, land systems, fresh water use and biogeochemical flows.

Many are fearful that looking at it narrowly through a carbon lens for the entire international community will lock poor countries into unsustainable paths, causing serious breach to some planetary limits while also bypassing the needs of the poor.

"We need to make evidence available that makes it clear that the woods are full of people, and it makes more sense to help them rather than kick them out," Andy White, president at Rights and Resources Group said.

“They are active protectors; you don't have to pay a park guard, because they protect their forests, and that is what the world needs."

About 1.5 billion indigenous people claim most of the land in the world, but ironically, they have legal rights to just 10 percent of it.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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