WASHINGTON, DC — The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) condemns the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The Paris Agreement – a global accord designed to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change – features roughly 200 countries as signatories; the United States today becomes the first country to formally withdraw from it. In response, NCAI, the largest and oldest national organization comprised of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments and their citizens, reaffirms its formal commitment to support the Paris Agreement.
“While expected, today’s action by the United States represents a gut punch to the global effort to save our planet for future generations, and a clear dereliction of the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to tribal nations to protect the ecosystems our communities and cultures depend on for their survival,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “But tribal nations, who are among the world’s most effective and innovative climate actors, will not be deterred. As sovereign governments, we will continue to wage an unrelenting battle against this existential threat to humanity.”
In 2017, tribal leaders from across the United States passed NCAI Resolution MOH-17-053 to formally support the Paris Climate Agreement. In furtherance of that resolution, earlier this year, NCAI joined more than 3,900 federal, state, and local climate leaders in signing the “We Are Still In” Declaration. The We Are Still In movement is the largest American coalition in support of climate action in history. Its signatories come from all 50 states and represent more than half of the U.S. population, nearly two-thirds of its economy, and more than half of the country’s emissions. It is are backed by over two-thirds of U.S. citizens, who have consistently supported the country’s participation in the Paris Agreement.
In addition, NCAI also established its Climate Action Task Force in 2018 to identify and advocate for the policies and funding necessary to help tribal nations engage in effective, sustainable climate action, as well as document, inform, and support the climate action initiatives of tribal nations and organizations.
“Indian Country is on the front lines of climate change. Native people disproportionately experience its impacts, from the loss of subsistence hunting and fishing ecosystems that nourish our people, to changing weather patterns that harm our traditional plants and medicines, to the forced relocation of a growing number of our tribal communities,” NCAI Climate Action Task Force Co-Chairs Melanie Bahnke, Beverly Cook, and Leonard Forsman said in a joint statement. “Tribal nations are doing their part to reverse these alarming trends before we reach the point of no return, and it is imperative that the United States recommit to doing its part.”
With the outcome of the U.S. Presidential Election still uncertain, NCAI calls upon the next Administration to immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and ensure that tribal nations have an equal seat at the national and international climate action tables.