European Union says mining and drilling should be allowed within 30×30 protected areas at COP15 summit in Montreal

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Video: Indigenous land defenders unfurl banner as Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau opens the COP15 summit. It says: “Indigenous Genocide = Ecocide. To Save Biodiversity Stop Invading Our Lands. Colonialism Can’t Save You.”

The 30×30 initiative is now being discussed at the United Nations COP15 biodiversity summit in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal).

In short, the 30×30 goal, which is backed by Canada, calls on governments to designate 30% of Earth’s land and ocean area as protected areas by 2030.

There are deep concerns that this could result in the displacement of Indigenous populations from these protected areas. Critics have described it as militarized conservationism and fortress conservation.

The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) has denounced 30×30 because of their experiences in the Cayos Cochinos islands and the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. You can read more about OFRANEH’s concerns here.

EU says mining and drilling should be allowed within protected areas

The Guardian reports: “The 30×30 initiative – to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030 – is backed by a coalition, led by the UK, France and Costa Rica, of more than 100 countries, but has received significant pushback from some Indigenous groups and human rights organisations, who say it raises the prospect of land grabs and further violence against communities scientifically shown to best protect nature.”

That article adds: “On the first day of formal negotiations, the idea of what constitutes a ‘protected area’ was facing significant scrutiny. The EU was accused of trying to water down the target by arguing that extractive industries such as mining and drilling should be allowed in protected areas, provided they did not negatively affect biodiversity.”

It further notes: “Within the 30×30 agreement, the EU wants 10% under strict protection, but within the remaining 20% it would allow extractive industries such as mining and drilling, provided this did not have a negative impact on biodiversity.”

Charlotte Dawe, conservation and policy campaigner for the Vancouver-based Wilderness Committee, has previously warned: “I have stood in freshly logged ‘protected areas’ supposedly made for the conservation of wildlife. If that’s what this government has in mind for meeting 30 by 30, it’s all smoke screen.”

Wet’suwet’en land defenders at COP15

Notably, the Decolonial Solidarity organizing team has announced that Gidimt’en water protector Sleydo’ and Wet’suwet’en land defenders will be in Montreal on December 16 “to participate in COP15 events”. They add: “There will be an action at the RBC building at Place Ville Marie on Dec. 16th (time to be announced!).”

Wet’suwet’en land defenders are resisting the construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on their territory in northern British Columbia. has documented: “RBC is among top commercial banks providing the CGL project with working capital, including CAD $275 million in project finance, a co-financed $6.5 billion loan, a $40 million corporate loan, and $200 million in co-financed working capital – while acting as financial advisor for the pipeline.”

Canada, Indigenous rights and COP15

This media statement from the Prime Minister of Canada says: “At COP15, Canada’s pavilion will showcase Canadian action and leadership on biodiversity conservation, promote partnerships and ambitious action, and amplify the voices of Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth. An Indigenous village will showcase the vital role of Indigenous Peoples as stewards of the land and offer a gathering space for Indigenous participants at the conference.”

And yet Indigenous land defenders are challenging the Trudeau government’s record on Indigenous territories and rights impacted by extractivism.

Ta’Kaiya Blaney of the Tla’amin First Nation, one of the land defenders who disrupted Trudeau speech at COP15, says: “I’m not here to fight for recognition, I’m here to fight for sovereignty, and that is different. I’m not asking the United Nations or Canada to recognize our nation as, in all of our belonging and our rights, I’m asking them to stop invading us.”

Notably, the Trudeau government continues to provide public financing to fossil fuel companies through the Government of Canada-owned Export Development Canada (EDC).

Above Ground has highlighted: “EDC’s support for the sector averaged $13.6-billion a year between 2018 and 2020, making Canada the largest provider of public finance for fossil fuels in the G20. This was 22 times greater than EDC’s support for renewable energy.”

Notably, EDC has lent up to $500 million to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline after a “rigorous due diligence review.”

The actual amount of overall fossil fuel subsidies could be even higher than $13.6 billion a year. CBC has reported: “In Canada in 2020, estimates range from $4.5 billion (OECD) to $18 billion (Environmental Defence, including public financing to support pipelines) to $81 billion (IMF, including externalities), although most reports note that a lack of transparency makes complete and accurate calculations difficult.”

Subsidizing the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders

The Environmental Defence PAYING POLLUTERS report released in April 2021 also highlighted: “A particularly egregious form of fossil fuel subsidy are investments made into policing Indigenous land defenders opposing fossil fuel infrastructure.”

It adds: “For example, over $13 million was spent last year on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to ‘protect’ the Coastal GasLink pipeline – which took the form of harassing Wet’suwet’en Nation community members who oppose the pipeline.”

By October 2022 The Tyee reported: “An ongoing RCMP presence on the Morice Forest Service Road in northern B.C., where a gas pipeline is under construction through Wet’suwet’en territory, has cost Canada’s police force more than $25 million.”

To date, there have been 90 arrests of 80 different people in relation to opposition to the construction of this pipeline.

Twenty people, including Sleydo’, are currently facing charges.

Peace Brigades International-Canada will be present in Montreal when Wet’suwet’en land defenders are there on December 16.

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has documented that the European banks financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline include: KfW IPEX-Bank and Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and CaixaBank (Spain).

“If you choose to invest your money in a project that is committing genocide on Indigenous people and lands, you will lose.” – Sleydo’

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