Marginalised voices and communities

The charge

The Climate and Ecological Emergency is a Crime Against Humanity perpetrated by the rich and powerful against the poor and vulnerable.

They have marginalised women, indigenous people and people of the Global South to the extent that entire communities and ways of life are disappearing. This is more than failure – it’s indifference and cruelty.

We charge the world’s most powerful governments with mass manslaughter by gross negligence for allowing marginalised people to unfairly bear the worst of the climate and eclogical crisis, even when they can offer climate solutions.

The evidence

Women, indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Lost peoples and nations

Global heating above 1.5C will be catastrophic for Pacific island nations and could lead to the loss of entire island nations. A new report by Greenpeace Australia Pacific has highlighted the stark climate injustice faced by the Pacific region, which is one of the lowest carbon-emitting regions in the world, is responsible for just 0.23% of global emissions, yet has suffered some of the earliest and most severe impacts of rising global temperatures.

Today, disasters are hollowing out communities and erasing important cultural, historical and religious sites, leaving only painful memories and haunting loss. Cultures, identities, traditions and ways of life are under threat. Entire communities face stark choices and unknown futures. Nations face crippling costs implementing climate resilience and defence.

The indigenous Nenets people have seen their reindeer-herding ways realigned by climate change, which is already affecting Russia’s far north as the permafrost melts. For centuries, Marshall Islanders have been tied to their ancestral lands through families, clans and ancient ties. Now they will lose their history and their sense of place. Iconic cities such as Venice or New Orleans are under threat, whilst towns and homes are being abandoned across the globe.

Where are all the women?

The climate crisis is (literally) man made, women are disproportionately affected by it yet female voices will be limited at the negotiating table. 

For decades, women have been under-represented at COP meetings and there is little evidence that women will be properly represented in most COP26 delegations. For example, the initial COP26 UK leadership team was all-male. 

Climate change will affect everyone but gender inequality makes women more likely to suffer the effects of climate change and deprives them of the resources to escape or tackle them. That’s because women are more likely to live in poverty than men, have less access to basic human rights like the ability to freely move and acquire land, and face systematic violence that escalates during periods of instability. In fact, the Paris Agreement includes specific provisions to ensure women receive support to cope with the hazards of climate change.

Fossil fuel companies, banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions turbo-charging the climate emergency are dominated by white men in the Global North. Men have a larger carbon footprint than women, by 16%, according to one study. The top 1% of income earners globally, who are overwhelmingly male, are responsible for more carbon emissions than the bottom 50 percent of earners. 70% of the world’s poor are women

Women are leading climate action movements, championing clean sources of energy, and building alternative models of community that focus on sustainability and cooperation. Female participation and leadership can have transformative effects in their countries and communities.

Women and women of colour are leading the fight against the climate crisis and battling for improved representation at negotiating tables. It’s not just wrong to marginalise female voices, it doesn’t make any sense. Research shows that more women in national parliaments leads to countries adopting better climate policies. Gender equality is a climate solution: higher levels of gender inequality result in more deforestation, air pollution, and resource loss.

Indigenous people

Climate chaos uniquely impacts on indigenous people because of their relationships with the land, ocean, and natural resources. Their communities are especially vulnerable to exploitation, bigotry, violence and land grabs for development yet they contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions.

Indigenous people are also a climate solution. Indigenous communities support around 80% of the planet’s biodiversity despite accounting for less than one twentieth of the human population, according to the World Bank. They are recognised for their knowledge while research shows their land management skills results in less deforestation and degradation. Yet this knowledge is frequently ignored by governments and environmental consultants as Indigenous people face increasing threats to their way of life.

Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of climate critical ecosystems, but across Brazil, invasions and destruction of indigenous lands and brutal attacks against indigenous peoples are skyrocketing. UK companies such as Tesco are complicit in this brutality through their links with Brazilian agribusiness. 

“We all breathe this one air, we all drink the same water. We all live on this one planet. We need to protect the Earth. If we don’t, the big winds will come and destroy the forest. Then you will feel the fear that we feel.”

Raoni Metuktire, indigenous activist and chief of the Kayapó community in Brazil.

Remembering earth defenders killed

Earth defenders on the front-lines of the climate crisis are murdered in increasing numbers because they expose the corruption and destruction, the crime of ecocide, that this economic system inflicts on our planet and its inhabitants. On average, four activists have been killed every week since December 2015.

New figures released by Global Witness show that 227 people were killed in 2020 while trying to protect forests, rivers and other ecosystems that their livelihoods depended on. Yet the people who inhabit these places never really share in the riches produced there: land grabs and colonialism still run strong, even if they are dressed up with corporate logos or hidden with offshore bank accounts.

Indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable, especially in Latin America. 40% of activists killed globally in 2019 were from Indigenous communities, despite the fact that they make up less than 4 percent of the global population.

Most of the killers are never brought to justice by governments who view environmental concerns as barriers to economic growth. Officials within these countries often encourage or are allied with the very private industries land defenders oppose.

The earth defenders killed each year are not just defending their local places, they are also defending our shared planet and our climate.