Rainforest Action Network Statement on Signing of the UN Paris Climate Agreement

For immediate release, April 22, 2016
Laurel Sutherlin, Rainforest Action Network, 415. 246. 0161
Virali Modi-Parekh, Rainforest Action Network, 510. 747. 8476
Christopher Herrera, Rainforest Action Network, 510. 290. 5282

Rainforest Action Network Statement on
Signing of the UN Paris Climate Agreement
Leonardo Dicaprio, Indigenous leaders, many others stress critical importance of urgent action to preserve forests and keep fossil fuels in ground to fight climate change

New York, NY – At the historic signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in New York City today, there was hope that pivoting our planet to a carbon-free future is possible — yet a deep concern that bold and decisive action from global leaders is still needed to avoid climate catastrophe.

Turning our societies away from fossil fuel based economies to prevent runaway climate change is now a global priority. Increasingly, advocates for a healthy climate are also realizing the central and irreplaceable role that intact forest ecosystems and Indigenous land stewardship play in regulating planetary carbon levels.

The Paris agreement recognizes this vital role that forests play and underscores the urgent need to protect remaining stands and biodiversity hotspots, such as the Leuser ecosystem of Indonesia. However, the agreement lacks the binding inclusion of Indigenous and human rights as key to fixing not only climate change but the systems that have led to it.

Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations today, Leonardo Dicaprio captured the feelings of many when he said “We can congratulate each other today, but it will mean absolutely nothing if the world’s leaders gathered here go home and do nothing. No more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies,” he said, “The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations or vilified by them.”

“The signing of the Paris Agreement today is a historic step in the right direction as far as setting collective intentions, but real climate leadership must include immediate and concrete actions to protect Indigenous land rights, keep fossil fuels in the ground and stop the ongoing destruction of natural forests and peatland landscapes,” said Ginger Cassady, Forest Program Director with Rainforest Action Network.

“Now with a signed agreement, global leaders need to work with local leaders and drive forward community-based solutions and help us transition to a just and environmentally sustainable economy” said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network. “We thank the countless people around the world who have acted on their conscience to address the reality of climate change, who stand in solidarity with those experiencing its first-hand impacts, and who demand an end to business as usual. Today is truly a recognition of their leadership.”

Indigenous groups from across the world gathered once again in New York for a full week of Earth Week activities following up on the strong presence Indigenous People’s brought to Paris for the COP 21 climate talks. (http://ifnotusthenwho.me/environmentdefenders/)