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United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

AAC participated from 2000-2004 in the Arctic Council's significant and hightly successful effort to prepare the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. This assessment projected very significant alterations in coming decades to the north's natural environment, and suggested that Arctic Indigenous Peoples, including Athabaskan peoples, would be hard pressed to adapt and adjust to these changes. As a result, in part, of the ACIA, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme adopted resolutions in 2003 and 2008 effectively characterizing the circumpolar world as the globe's climate change barometer. AAC is of the firm opinion that the impacts of climate change can only add to the challenge of implementing land claims agreements and exercising aboriginal self-governance. Changes to the natural environment including the distribution and abundance of harvested animals may well undercut the harvesting rights guaranted to Athabaskan peoples in Canadian comprehensive land claims agreements--modern treaties--and make it more difficult to include in decision-making the principles and commitments in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Since the ACIA was completed and published in 2005, we have attended the annual Conferences of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with the aim of using the ACIA to educate states and non-governmental organizations to the importance globally of the changes taking place in the Arctic. As do Indigenous Peoples worldwide, we seek strong commitments by states to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause climate change.

The governments of the United States and Canada have been remiss and recalcitrant in responding to the climate change crisis. We have briefed Canadian ministers at UNFCCC COPs and participated avidly in meetings involving the Assembly of First Nations and other national aboriginal organizations with Canada's Chief Negotiator on Climate Change. We have sponsored and carried out special side events at COPs which focus on our rights and interests, and our cultures and economies. Our side event at the 2009 Copenhagen COP was attended by more than 250 people and attracted much comment in the press. At the COP in Poznan, Poland in 2008, interventions by Mr. Bill Erasmus, Dene National Chief and AACs International Chair, were featured in the press throughout North America, including the front page of the New York Times.

The climate change agenda is huge as are the implications for Athabaskan peoples of the projections in the ACIA. It is easy to be overwhelmed in climate change COPs, which attract thousands of participants, including stars of screen and stage. AAC's voice can easily be drowned out and our advocacy ignored by decision-makers. It is for this reason that we are exploring the implications of climate change on our human rights. Please look at our newsletters in the documents section of this web site for reports of AACs engagement in the UNFCCC process.

Arctic Athabaskan Council


Arctic Athabaskan Council
300 Range Rd, PO Box 39
Whitehorse STN C S C
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 5X9
Phone: +1 867 335 6030

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