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Forum Post: Warsaw Climate Talks Go Up in Smoke

Posted 11 months ago on Nov. 21, 2013, 5:03 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Warsaw Climate Talks Go Up in Smoke

Thursday, 21 November 2013 10:29 By Chris Williams, Truthout | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20152-warsaw-climate-talks-go-up-in-smoke

"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.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20152-warsaw-climate-talks-go-up-in-smoke


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

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20190-as-poor-countries-walk-out-of-climate-talks-venezuela-calls-on-industrial-nations-to-take-action

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.

TRANSCRIPT: http://truth-out.org/news/item/20190-as-poor-countries-walk-out-of-climate-talks-venezuela-calls-on-industrial-nations-to-take-action

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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 11 months ago

"Nature Does Not Negotiate": Environmentalists Walk Out of UN Climate Summit in Warsaw

Friday, 22 November 2013 11:33 By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20210-nature-does-not-negotiate-environmentalists-walk-out-of-un-climate-summit-in-warsaw

As we began our show, hundreds of environmental activists walked out of the U.N. climate change summit in Warsaw, Poland, today over the absence of a binding agreement on curbing global warming. The move comes less than 36 hours after a group of 133 developing nations walked out of a key negotiating meeting 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. "Our message to our political leaders is that nature does not negotiate," says Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo. "You can’t change the science — we have to change political will."

TRANSCRIPT:

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Warsaw, Poland, where the climate is cold and the protests are hot. We are at the U.N. climate change summit, known as COP 19. As we go to broadcast, hundreds of activists are walking out of the talks. Groups backing the walkout include Greenpeace, Oxfam, 350.org, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF International and Friends of the Earth. The move comes less than 36 hours after a group of 133 developing nations walked out of a key negotiating meeting 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.

We turn right now to Kumi Naidoo, who, just moments ago, surrounded by hundreds of people, addressed the protest. He’s head of Greenpeace International.

KUMI NAIDOO: This action is a clear statement that this particular COP is a complete betrayal to the sense of urgency that is needed. In fact, today, as we are here, there are activists around the world who are paying a price for standing up to take action on climate action. Whether it is the Arctic 30 that are in prison in Russia or whether it’s indigenous peoples in different parts of Latin America, they are the ones who actually are saying, "Our livelihoods are at threat. We need to act." And our political leaders have the temerity to tolerate the fact that we are called hooligans, when in fact the real hooligans are the CEOs and the big bosses of oil, coal and gas companies that have completely captured our governments and have completely captured this negotiating process. It is an insult to us that, in fact, this COP is largely sponsored by the coal industry. It’s been given opportunity to proclaim that there such a thing as clean coal and so on.

And given all of this, this action is about sending a clear statement that our leaders here need to wake up, they need to pull up their sockses, they need to actually act with the urgency that both science and extreme weather events are actually saying that we need to. As my comrades here have already said, we are not disrespecting the United Nations or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is the individual positions that powerful governments bring here that is holding the process. That is why our commitment here is not simply saying we’re walking out. We are saying we are walking out, and we are committing ourselves to mobilize the largest number of people in every single country in the world to say to every parent, "Your child and your grandchildren’s future is at stake. You need to stand up now and take action," so that when we get to the next COP in Lima, Peru, next year, we have, hopefully, a better fighting chance to lay the foundations for a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty when we get to Paris—something, by the way, that we were supposed to have achieved in Copenhagen.

So our message to our political leaders: Understand that nature does not negotiate. You cannot change the science. And we have to change political will. And it’s within their capacity to do that, and they cannot drag their feet any longer, and they need to start doing that now.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International. We’ll have more on the walkout later in this broadcast, as it’s taking place as we broadcast.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.