A report on Indigenous Leaders Fighting the Climate Crisis: Oil and Gas Mining

Asim Mudgal
Asim Mudgal
Asim Mudgal is an aspiring writer creating space for self-development and inclusivity.

Civil Society groups holding demonstrations to protest oil and gas explorations. Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The climate crisis, as noted, has been the biggest problem, and environmental activists are fighting for the same. There have been several factors that have led to climate change. When it comes to factors, we know how oil and gas mining has affected wildlife, communities, and biodiversity. So, we can conclude from the results of air pollution, greenhouse gases, water pollution, forest fires, and changing vegetation patterns. Over time, we have come to know the role played by Indigenous groups, civil society, and world leaders in fighting mining activities in response to the climate crisis. 

In a recent report, South African civil society gathered in Capetown to protest against a new seismic survey carried in the wild coast for oil and gas exploration. Further, Wild Coast communities and applicants argued that seismic surveys will cause "significant and irreparable harm" to marine life in the area and will negatively impact the livelihoods and customary and constitutional rights of coastal communities. The discovery of hydrocarbons, like oil and gas, would lead to their use - contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, a driver of climate change. 

If we look at the resources, there was a halt cited in the previous 2009 killings that happened in Peru, Amazonia. In the fights that followed, at least 50 Indians and nine police officers were killed, with hundreds more wounded or arrested. The indigenous rights group Survival International described it as "Peru's Tiananmen Square." The 2009 report stated that the indigenous struggles and fights were barely reported in the press. Additionally, there had been protests around mines, oil, logging, and mineral exploitation in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and North America. Further, Hydroelectric dams, biofuel plantations, coal, copper, gold, and bauxite mines were all at the center of major land rights disputes. "For thousands of years, we've run the Amazon forests," said Servando Puerta, one of the protest leaders. 

Photo by Pilar Valbuena/Global Landscapes Forum [Indigenous Leader] 

López Smith, 52, was a leader of the Mayangna Indigenous community. Dozens of people from the Mayangna and Miskito communities have been killed in attacks in recent years that have been blamed on settlers who invaded Indigenous lands [Indigenous leader killed, mutilated in Nicaragua, ABC News]. A recent 2022 report by United Nations quotes, "A 14-year-old child human rights defender was killed, and another was forcibly abducted. Further, an increasing number of children and adolescents are being recruited by non-state armed groups, a significant percentage of whom are girls." In recent months, threats and attacks against the Nasa indigenous peoples, their leaders, and members of the indigenous guard have increased [United Nations, 24th March 2022]. As per a UN report, 2020, In GENEVA, the Philippines, 30 indigenous people were forcibly dispersed for protesting and blocking three fuel tankers from entering the Oceanagold Didipio mining site in Nueva Vizcaya province. Contrary to the said situations, A group of UN experts urged the Philippines government not to discriminate against indigenous peoples in favor of business interests and when enforcing anti-COVID19 measures.

In the greater Chaco Region of Mexico Dine and Pueblo, communities have worked and fought together for the preservation of ancestral land. Over the years, oil and gas drilling, including fracking, releases pollutants serious to respiratory, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Health risks are also associated with health and beneficial facilities. Tribal communities, especially women and children, suffer to find proper health care. As far as India, Hundreds of tribal villagers from Hasdeo Forest protested against the massive expansion of coal mining on their lands. The Hasdeo Forest is the ancestral home of approximately 10,000 Adivasis belonging to the Gond, Oraon, Lohar, and Kunwar peoples. It is also one of the richest and most biodiverse regions.

Geovaldis Gonzalez Jimenez, an indigenous peasant leader from Colombia stated that,

“There have been 135 murders in his region, the last one happened a day before the Global Landscape Forum began, when a local leader was killed in front of a nine-year-old boy.” [Global Landscape Forum, 2019] 

To conclude, the steps of modern development and differences in traditional values can be seen in the larger picture. Indigenous leaders have taken part of their lives to save and preserve the traditional values, but disassociation from companies has resulted in a controversial crisis. Concerning the article, we know the fight and sacrifices by Indigenous leaders as well as the concern of oil and gas mining. Even the United Nations has set laws and regulations regarding mining projects and how to bring safe measures for communities' tribal land. Despite the efforts and methods, there was a reported illegal gold mining in Brazil, and how they fired on the indigenous Yanomami group. Additionally, the group protected themselves with bow and arrow, but three minors got killed in confrontations. However, the diverse groups still work live Civil societies, indigenous leaders, and environmental activists are fighting to make everything secure. 

By 2100, says United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, “We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”