Posted 10 months ago on Nov. 21, 2013, 5:03 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Warsaw Climate Talks Go Up in Smoke
Thursday, 21 November 2013 10:29 By Chris Williams, Truthout | News Analysis
"The smell of inaction" is how Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth Mozambique's international program director for climate justice and energy, summed up the atmosphere inside the giant Narodowy Stadium after the first week of the latest round of international climate negotiations, Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as COP 19, taking place Nov 11-22, 2013, in Warsaw.
Given that this is the 19th consecutive year of annual negotiations and with a meaningful global treaty more distant now than it was almost two decades ago, Bhatnagar's olfactory deduction seems likely to be highly accurate.
As the pervasive smell of inaction seeped like a suffocating gas throughout the inside of the conference, outside, the choking effects of coal smoke waft from all corners of a country that obtains 90 percent of its electricity from coal and whose government has pledged to keep it that way until 2060.
As if to emphasize the point, just on the other side of the banks of the Vistula River, a stone's throw from the international climate negotiations, another conference is being held at the Polish Ministry of the Economy. Intent on sending a none-too-subtle message to government negotiators at COP 19, coal industry executives have gathered at the International Coal and Climate Conference, November 18-19, to discuss the future of coal in light of climate change.
If this were a rational system set up to benefit humanity, one might think that, as coal burning releases more carbon than other fossil fuels in addition to small particulates that infiltrate and cause chronic lung damage as well as other toxic chemicals that increase the risk of cancer and cause acid rain - coal industry leaders might be discussing how to shift their investments, to phase out coal and transition to alternative energy production methods that don't rely on burning such a noxious substance.
In reality, the conference was put on for precisely the opposite reasons. Attendees, with the blessing of the Polish government, were there to argue for the future of "clean coal." This technology is known as CCS (carbon capture and storage). And although it seeks to trap and bury carbon emissions from coal plants, it doesn't exist in any meaningful commercial form. Even some supporters harbor increasing doubts that it ever will be made to work on the scale necessary. But, nevertheless, it is being touted as the way to "safely" continue burning coal.
As Poor Countries Walk Out of Climate Talks, Venezuela Calls on Industrial Nations to Take Action
Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:47 By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview
A group of 133 developing nations have walked out of a key part of the climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, amidst a conflict over how countries who have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases should be held financially responsible for some of the damage caused by extreme weather in nations with low carbon emissions. The United States, Australia, Canada and other industrialized countries are pushing for the issue — known as loss and damage — to be put off until after the 2015 climate talks in Paris. "When you see developed countries being so bold to tell you that they are not even considering reducing their emissions, that they are not even considering paying for the costs that those inactions have on the life of others, that is really rude and hard to handle it politically," says Claudia Salerno, the lead climate negotiator for Venezuela, which is a member of the G77+China group that walked out. "We are heading to a point in which countries are not ready to take responsibility for their acts, and in this case, even more pathetic, they are not wanting to be." Salerno became famous at the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen when she banged her hand against the table in an attempt to be heard, hitting it so vigorously that it began to bleed. Her country is set to host a ministerial meeting next year ahead of the 2014 U.N. climate summit in Peru, where it will welcome the input of civil society.