Gwich’in Tribal Council deputy chief from Canada shares frustration from COP25 conference

Jordan Peterson, deputy chief of the Gwich’in Tribal Council, went to COP 25 because he wanted to educate people on porcupine caribou conservation and to see meaningful action on climate change from governments. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)
‘I actually feel really emotional right now,’ Jordan Peterson told CBC while at COP 25

The deputy chief of the Gwich’in Tribal Council says he felt frustration and sadness while attending the UN climate change conference in Madrid, Spain, this week.

Jordan Peterson of Inuvik, N.W.T., went to the conference because he wanted to educate people on porcupine caribou conservation and to see meaningful action on climate change from governments.

Since 1995, world leaders have come together annually at the Convention of the Parties (COP) to negotiate how to address the global crisis of climate change. This year was COP 25, and the meetings ended Friday.

“It’s frustrating. It’s sad,” said Peterson during an interview mid-week with CBC North Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis. Peterson pointed out that it has been difficult for parties and government leaders to come to an agreement on several issues.

“I actually feel really emotional right now,” said Peterson. “It’s a lot, man.”

‘Young people still hopeful’

He said a lot of young people were emotional, especially at a youth panel they attended. The negotiation session was meant to be four hours, but he said the parties couldn’t agree on an insignificant point.

“We wasted an hour and a half on what to call their meeting, when they’re supposed to be negotiating the future of humanity.”

But Peterson said there was a sense of hope at the climate conference, especially from the young people around the world.

“They’re still hopeful, which is really amazing to see. They’ve been able to come together to raise their voices and speak out about the protection of their future.”

‘Not just happening to us’

Peterson said there were three back-to-back presentations on topics including the porcupine caribou herd and renewable energy projects in the North — and attempts to gain more international support.

“It’s not just happening to us as northern, Indigenous, Gwich’in, but it’s happening to Indigenous people all across the world.”

Peterson said the message he wants to bring back to his community is: “We’re not alone in this fight.”

“[We] have amazing Indigenous partners from across the world that want to support us, and we need to support them in their fight,” said Peterson.

Peterson said Indigenous knowledge from elders and ancestors must be a part of these conversations.

“I truly believe Indigenous knowledge is the solution to climate change.”

-Written based on an interview by Loren McGinnis, produced by Rachel Zelniker

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: International Inuit leaders demand decisive action on climate change amidst COP25 disappointment, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland ‘disappointed’ by COP25 failure, Yle News

Greenland: Greenlanders stay chill as the world reacts to their heatwave, CBC News

Iceland: Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls for climate action at Arctic Circle assembly, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Warm winter expected across the Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: IPCC climate report warns “extreme sea level events” will occur frequently, Radio Sweden

United States: The Arctic shipping route no one is talking about, Cryopolitics Blog

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