What the NWT delegates want out of COP26

The world’s largest climate change meeting took place this week in Glasgow, and two NWT MLAs are there.

Shane Thompson, minister of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR); Katrina Nokleby, MLA for Great Slave; and two government staff make up the territory’s delegation to COP26.

Prior to leaving, Nokleby told CKLB she hopes to share stories of life in the North and how it’s affected by climate change.

“The impact we can have, because we are so small, is to tell that personalized story,” she said. “The Elders have the stories and the knowledge that can be brought to the global scale.”

However, no Elders or any Indigenous people are part of the NWT delegation to share their stories first-hand.

Thompson said the NWT group is part of the larger Canadian delegation and doesn’t know whether the federal government reached out to Indigenous groups or governments to join.

CKLB asked how the delegates would ensure Indigenous voices are heard at the conference.

Thompson said he’s shared stories of major forest fires in 2014, the effects of permafrost melt on getting supplies to communities, how Elders used to travel on the land, and most recently the flooding in the Dehcho.

“It would be lovely to have more Indigenous people here, but right now we’re just providing their story as best we can,” said Thompson.

Why go? 

Countries presenting their plans to cap global temperature increases at 1.5C was one of the main goals of this year’s conference. But even before it started, some organizers were saying there likely would not be any major agreements to come out of the event. Nothing like the landmark Paris Agreement that resulted from COP21 in 2015.

Some of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters — including Russia and China — did not attend.

Despite these factors, both Thompson and Nokleby said despite these circumstances, it was still worth attending to meet people and take away some new ideas.

Thompson said he’s motivated to have youth and Elders climate change panels “be up an running.” He added that he’s meeting with the federal government to try and push for more funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

As for MLA Nokleby, she told CKLB: “I’m a firm believer of not reinventing the wheel. If another country… has done work on something, and we can take that and adopt it for use in the Northwest Territories, that’s smart and that’s a good use of our money.”

In line with this, CKLB asked how much the GNWT is spending to send representatives to the conference but was told the costs would only be tabulated after the trip.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.