The fight for climate justice is a fight for universal human rights. 

None know this better than the Indigenous communities on the frontlines, fending off greedy fossil fuel giants. In 2018, 164 environmental activists were killed while protecting their homes, and many more were criminalised through the use and abuse of laws and policies designed to intimidate defenders, their families, and the communities they represent. 

Indigenous people were at the frontline of these attacks. Traditional custodians of the land have been met with the worst of the extractive fossil fuel industry, but time and time again, the people have resisted.

One such fight is ongoing in the Pacific Island nation of Papua New Guinea, where the Labu community of Morobe is resisting the construction of a coal-fired power station near their village. The proposed Lae power station would use coal mined in Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province. Pacific Climate Warrior Christopher Lam of 350 PNG, a Papua New Guinean climate defender, warns of not only the increased emissions from the proposed power station that would exacerbate the climate crisis, but the many issues of waste management and air quality that the station would bring. 

There has been a rapid change in temperature recently, resulting in hotter days, and many coastline communities, including Labu, have had to continuously move inward due to rising sea levels,” Lam said. “Communities in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where it’s cooler and more suitable for farming, have had to endure long periods of drought and frost that affect their traditional way of life and sustenance.”

The systems that allow fossil fuel giants to to operate in regions that suffer the worst consequences of the climate crisis are the same systems that have stripped Indigenous peoples of their rights to land, sovereignty, and resources.

“Indigenous rights to land, and to free, prior, and informed consent processes should be emphasised and carried out, especially in the case of new developments affecting Indigenous communities,” Lam said.

As world leaders gather at the UN climate summit in Madrid, we call for real climate leadership in solidarity with climate defenders from the Amazon rainforest to the islands of Papua New Guinea: Uphold the rights of affected communities, especially Indigenous peoples; kick polluters out of COP; and keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Watch this video celebrating the climate actions and solutions from Indigenous and frontline communities who are fighting fossil fuel and extractive industries in order to preserve their lands, oceans, cultures, and families. And join us in demanding that our leaders stop funding these very same industries.

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