At COP26 in Glasgow, activists and experts are seeking to be heard and have their issues addressed. However, many causes are going ignored. Ruth Miller, Climate Justice Director for Native Movement, an Alaska-based grassroots group that represents Miller’s Indigenous community, has teamed up with eight other youths representing Indigenous groups to push their agenda at the conference.

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Although Indigenous communities have not been given sufficient room at such global meetings, the activist group says their concerns represent millions worldwide. Miller and her fellow activists had to share apartments and stayed almost an hour’s drive away from Glasgow due to the high cost of apartments in the city. Even with these obstacles, they fought to represent their issues. While they got a chance to talk with some top officials, the group couldn’t speak directly to the delegates.

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“Being an Indigenous youth at COP is extraordinarily limiting and tokenizing in a number of ways, both by nature of being Indigenous and by being youth,” Miller said.

Miller shared her experiences with the other activists and discussed how climate change affects the entire world, though in different ways. For instance, Miller, who is from the Arctic, found that her experiences connect to those of Tiana Jakicevich, one of the activists hailing from the Southern Hemisphere.

“While Ruth’s ice is melting, our seas are rising. So we are intrinsically connected to the earth and each other through that,” Jakicevich said.

Jakicevich recalled her childhood days and tried to compare it to the situation now. “It’s like a little shellfish and you used to just dig in the sand for them. And every year we kept going back and they moved every year, and then about five years ago we couldn’t find them.”

According to Miller, even though youthful activists are often dismissed, they have a lot to offer. “A number of us are extremely well versed in the substantive content of particularly Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, of a number of negotiating platforms,” Miller said. “We work in these fields as well as being youth. And yet, most of what I’ve talked about is how difficult it is for youth to be heard. We don’t even get to talk about what we would talk about if we were heard.”

Miller and her fellow activists want the contents of Article 6 revised, saying that it mostly talks about carbon trading, a situation that emboldens polluters. They are also demanding a new deal at COP26 that recognizes Indigenous communities.


Lead image via Pixabay