How can we reimagine our relationship with nature? Why do we need to bring down the emissions of the rich more than all? How can we bridge climate science with indigenous knowledge? A profound interview with leading climate figure Hindou Ibrahim, an indigenous leader and member of Mbororo people in Chad and President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT). We’re also joined by Tim Gore, the climate guru behind Oxfam’s fascinating new research showing how bringing down the emissions of the richest is crucial to the fight against climate change.

This is episode 2 of the EQUALS podcast Season 3 – and if you’re joining us for the first time, tune in to our earlier interviews  – from talking with Anand Giridharadas on whether we need billionaires, to world-leading rebel economist Devaki Jain on the care economy, to Darrick Hamilton on race and inequality, and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on what comes after the pandemic.

Talking through Indigenous Communities’ Experience

Hindou: “When you come from the community that depends …(on) the natural resources, … you understand exactly what is happening when they talk about climate change and it is the same for all indigenous people around the world. We do not need to read reports to know that the climate is changing …We live that in our daily lives. … The picture is so scary that you can not just read it in the report wording, but you live it in your daily life. … “

Going through the Motions

Nadia asks Hindou how she feels about Oxfam’s research showing that the top 1% is responsible for double the CO2 emissions of the poorest 50%.

Hindou: “It is so ridiculous. We in the global south (are) experiencing all those weather events very extremely affecting our lives, killing our people. …When I saw the report, (I thought) it is really irresponsible and ridiculous. I am like Oh my God, where are we? Are they human beings like us? Are they citizens of this planet like all of us…? Or they are just thinking that they are in a different planet from all of us? I’m feeling so bad and I’m feeling like, who are they to decide the future of our world without us? I cannot explain to you the sentiment that I have, the feeling that I have about these irresponsibles.”

Indigenous Communities have the Solutions to Fight Climate Change

Nabil asks Hindou what she means when she talks about her grandmother being her “best app”.

Happily, Hindou explains, “…because … my grandmother (does) not need a phone or application that maybe tells you it’s going to rain and surprise, the sun is raising! She can just tell you by just observing the cloud position, the wind direction, the displacement of the birds, the insects, the little ants that are sometimes invisible…the behaviour of her own cattle and she can tell you if it’s going to rain the next couple of hours, or if the next year is going to be a good season with regular rains or she has to plan from what place to which place she has to move with her cattle. So, she is my best app, absolutely, because she uses this knowledge that she has from all the generations transferred to her, to better plan the adaptation of her people. To tell us where to get fresh water to drink and pasture for our cattle and move from one place to another to avoid conflict with other communities fighting for the limited resources.”

The Relationship between Indigenous Communities and Biodiversity

Answering Nabil’s question regarding this relationship, Hindou says, “… For us, (the) ecosystem (is) very important …and that’s why … having a nomadic life can … (regenerate) the resources in a natural way… When we move from one place to another,… that also means we do not use all the resources of this one place and then we go to the next one and we let the nature, the ecosystem, to (play) the role it has to… because all of us have a role to play to keep our environment in balance. Every kind of species in this world (has) a role to play.”

How-to Live in Harmony with Nature

Nadia asks how those who live in “concrete jungles” in various cities can reimagine their relationship with nature and live in harmony with it.

Hindou answers, “… Every single day, we have a new thing that we are using just by stealing the resources of the nature without respecting the other species. It cannot work like that. We need to recreate back the living in harmony with nature and maybe for the people in the city, they have supermarkets and they can get them cash and go and buy whatever they need in the supermarket, but the …indigenous people who are living in the forests, in the savannas, in the mountains, our supermarkets are our forests, or those savannas or those mountains … So, all the two different worlds, they need to come back and see how we can live back in harmony with nature…”

Addressing Powerful World Leaders

So, what does Hindou say to the leaders she takes her message to and how are they taking it?

“… I always give them the message that they cannot (make) the decisions alone or … on our behalf. …  (I keep) telling them that they cannot exclude us. They cannot take us as beneficiaries. … We are not charities. We want to be partners. We want to decide our futures. We want to design our futures all together… For the developed countries especially, my message is: it is enough! It’s really enough. They have to stop all the fossil fuel. They have to stop all the coal mining. They have developed all the renewable energy. They have all the technology that can (allow) them continue (their) lives in the same trajectories that they have.”

Talking about Hope – Hindou’s World in 2050

“My hope will be to see all our nature coming back. To see all the nations going to zero emissions. No more (destructive) industries; … harming forests by cutting them or burning them; … using all the fossil fuel we have in the ground. I want to see …, the clean energy in my community when they can turn on the lights and the kids can read and at least they can enjoy the life sustainability. I want to see my peoples accessing … clean water to drink because it is not the case now. We are in the 21st century (and) people are still drinking water from the rivers, the lakes. Is it acceptable? … I want them to see the nature that I (was) used to … when I was a kid, playing the colourful and beautiful birds; … to not use the powder milk that they send from Europe but using the milk from our cattle, produced during the dry season and rainy season. I want to see people respecting, recognizing, (and) living in harmony with nature. … I want them to understand the importance of what nature is giving us and I think Kennedy said that in his speech, … Don’t ask what your country (does) for you. Ask what you do for your country. I want all the people of the world to not ask what the planet does for us, but what they can do for the planet. If they ask this question, it will benefit us all.”

Nabil and Nadia also talk to climate guru Tim Gore regarding extreme carbon inequality and just how to tackle climate change.

Tim Gore

Extreme Carbon Inequality

Tim breaks down the key highlights of Oxfam’s latest climate reported stating, “… We show in the report how from 1990 to 2015, the amount of carbon that was added to the atmosphere doubled and in that period, about over half of it came from just the richest 10% of the people on the planet and the richest 1% alone were responsible for more than double the amount of the poorest half of humanity combined… We show that the richest 10% alone used up about a third (1/3) of (the) carbon budget and what is left will be entirely gone by 2030 by current rates unless we completely change course now. That’s the real urgency. So, really it’s a story about how the global carbon budget has been squandered not to eliminate poverty, not to bring decent standards of living to the poorest people in the planet, but really just to increase the consumption of the already affluent.”

Tackling Climate Change

Tim explains how to tackle climate change stating, “… It’s been very easy to blame poor countries or middle-income countries, … but we’re a big part of the problem in rich countries as well. Over half of the emissions come from those of us that are in the richest 10%. So, we do need new policies designed for people like us! To get our consumption down. There’s no other way of hitting these very tough climate targets without people like us actually using less energy than we do today. We’ve got to find a different type of economy. One that shrinks the total amount of energy that we are all consuming and redistributes the wealth that our economy generates much more fairly so that everyone can enjoy a decent standard of living but within the limits that our planet can bear”

Nabil follows up this answer asking if the debate is fundamentally about rich nations and how we should approach that, i.e. whether we should make the global economy grow less as a whole.

Tim answeres, “well, ultimately, yes. … There’s no easy way around it. … These next ten years, these are absolutely our last chance to do things differently and every opportunity any of us have to reduce our own personal use of energy, we should take. But fundamentally, we need Governments to set us on a different path. …  We need to think much more about the purpose of our economy. If it’s not to improve the well-being of people, then what is the point?

That’s it for this episode. Do listen, subscribe, and share with your friends and family. And follow us on @EQUALSHope  on Twitter.