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Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

The Search for Legal Remedies

Edited by Randall S. Abate and Elizabeth Ann Kronk

Indigenous peoples occupy a unique niche within the climate justice movement, as many indigenous communities live subsistence lifestyles that are severely disrupted by the effects of climate change. Additionally, in many parts of the world, domestic law is applied differently to indigenous peoples than it is to their non-indigenous peers, further complicating the quest for legal remedies. The contributors to this book bring a range of expert legal perspectives to this complex discussion, offering both a comprehensive explanation of climate change-related problems faced by indigenous communities and a breakdown of various real world attempts to devise workable legal solutions. Regions covered include North and South America (Brazil, Canada, the US and the Arctic), the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia), Australia and New Zealand, Asia (China and Nepal) and Africa (Kenya).

Chapter 12: Canadian indigenous peoples and climate change: the potential for Arctic land claims agreements to address changing environmental conditions

Sophie Thériault

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, law and development, politics and public policy, human rights


As explained in previous chapters, indigenous peoples are widely considered to be disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. The nature and intensity of climate change effects on these peoples are defined, among other factors, by their geographic location and relative reliance on the natural environment and its resources for livelihood, culture and spirituality. Their capacity to address climate change thus hinges on their relative exposure to shifting environmental conditions as well as on available knowledge, material and technical resources. Moreover, such capacity is defined at the institutional level by the legal frameworks governing access to land and natural resources, governance structures and indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making processes relevant to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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