UN cli­mate con­fer­ence meets in coal-fo­cused Poland

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - THE SUNDAY TIMES 2 - By Tomek Rol­ski - Cour­tesy ABC News

The U.N.’s 24th Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence met this week in Ka­tow­ice, Poland, with around 20,000 peo­ple from 190 coun­tries aim­ing to ne­go­ti­ate ways to slow down cli­mate change. Par­tic­i­pants may hold dif­fer­ent views on how to en­force the non-bind­ing U.N. Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment –- a pledge by over 100 coun­tries to re­duce green­house emis­sions and limit global tem­per­a­ture in­creases -but most agree that burn­ing coal is the main con­tribut­ing fac­tor to global warm­ing. Iron­i­cally, the con­fer­ence is be­ing held in Ka­tow­ice, the coal cap­i­tal of Poland, which is it­self the most coal-de­pen­dent coun­try in Europe and among the most pol­luted. On Tues­day morn­ing, con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants were en­ter­tained by band made up of coal min­ers play­ing songs to cel­e­brate the day of Saint Bar­bara, the pa­tron saint of min­ers. Nearly 90,000 Poles are em­ployed in coal min­ing, and for decades they have en­joyed high wages and ben­e­fits, and the sup­port of a po­lit­i­cal lobby. “Coal is our black gold”, Pol­ish Pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda told the cel­e­brat­ing min­ers on Tues­day in front of sev­eral re­porters. “Coal is the source of our so­cial, eco­nomic and civ­i­liza­tional val­ues,” Pol­ish me­dia out­let TVP Info re­ported. Duda ad­dressed the cli- mate con­fer­ence later the same day.“Cli­mate poli­cies can­not be im­ple­mented against so­ci­eties,” said Duda. “Coal is the strate­gic re­source of our coun­try, we have sup­plies for the next 200 years, and it would be un­rea­son­able to drop that. Coal is not con­tra­dic­tory to cli­mate pro­tec­tion," Pol­ish me­dia out­let TVP Info re­ported. En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have been out­raged with Duda, as they have been with the rhetoric com­ing out of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. A part of the U.S del­e­ga­tion in Ka­tow­ice is plan­ning to set up a side-event pro­mot­ing fos­sil fu­els, re­peat­ing a strat­egy that has in­fu­ri­ated global-warm­ing ac­tivists. “Pro­por­tion­ally speak­ing, the U.S. is not as coal de­pen­dent as we are with over 80 per­cent of our en­ergy be­ing sourced from coal. But the pro­pa­ganda ef­fect is enor­mous,” said Marek Joze­fiak, cli­mate and en­ergy co­or­di­na­tor for Green­peace Poland, told ABC News. “Many peo­ple here still think that what the U.S does is what’s right.” He added that the U.S. pro­mo­tion of coal as an en­ergy source was “scan­dalous.” A re­cent poll con­ducted by CBOS in­di­cated that 72 per­cent of Poles dis­agree with coal-heavy na­tional poli­cies, and want it to aban­don coal-sourced en­ergy al­to­gether. The Ka­tow­ice Con­fer­ence is sched­uled to run for an­other two weeks.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists hold plac­ards dur­ing a “Cli­mate Is Health” protest dur­ing the COP24 U.N. Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence 2018 in Ka­tow­ice, Poland on Fri­day. Reuters

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