During the last few years, solidarity with indigenous peoples has been a major area of emphasis for environmentalist, climate change activist, and anti-pipeline groups. In part, this seems to be based on the view that indigenous peoples have the strongest legal tools for blocking new fossil fuel projects, at least in Canada.
This raises the question of how genuine the support for indigenous people really is. Do these environmental groups provide such support principally for the narrow (yet essential) purpose of avoiding catastrophic climate change? Is it somehow automatically the case that indigenous communities will choose low-carbon energy if given more power to influence political and economic choices? When indigenous groups support fossil fuel development, for whatever reason, what is the appropriate response for those seeking to prevent catastrophic climate change? And even if the impulse to prevent catastrophic climate change is morally laudable, how should indigenous communities feel about being used as a means to that end?