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Thousands Protest In Warsaw At Sluggish Climate Crisis Talks

By Countercurrents.org

17 November, 2013

Thousands of people are protesting against climate crisis reality while the Warsaw climate crisis talks are faltering. The protests were held in Poland and Canada.

Media reports said:

Climate activists expressed their anger at a lack of progress at the COP19 talks in a Climate Justice Protest march through the streets of Warsaw.

Amid a heavy police presence, 3000 people walked from the Palace of Culture in the centre of the city to the National Stadium, where the UN conference is taking place.

Climate activists are concerned at the level of business engagement with the talks, and also a decision by UN climate chief Christiana Figueres to attend a coal summit hosted by Poland on Monday.

“Governments have come here and we’re moving backwards,” WWF’s head of Climate and Energy Samantha Smith told RTCC at the protest.
“We’re super frustrated, we’re hoping this process next week can make some forward movement, but if it doesn’t, we really have to question why are governments here, why are we here, and what is the UNFCCC Secretariat doing about this?”, she added

In RTCC, Sophie Yeo’s report from Warsaw said:

Pressure is mounting on the European Union to make up for the lack of ambition shown by fellow developed countries Japan, Australia and Canada at UN talks in Poland.

Japan has attracted the brunt of fury after reducing its international emissions reduction targets, but negotiators from developing countries have told RTCC of their disappointment that the EU has failed to set out a clear and ambitious pathway to a climate change deal in 2015.

Seychelles Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said he hoped that the actions of Japan and Australia would not lead to other developed countries easing off on their ambitions.

Speaking in Warsaw, he said that for AOSIS to be reassured that the EU was maintaining its leadership position, he would like to hear greater ambition coming forward at the ministerial level meetings taking place next week.

This should be directed towards the development of a loss and damage mechanism and pre-2020 commitments, on top of emissions reductions targets for a 2015 agreement.

He admitted that the EU was not in a position to offer a concrete increase on its pre-2020 ambition next week, as any decision would have to be passed through the European Commission back in Brussels.

“We’re not asking necessarily for more commitments,” he said. “We’re asking for more support for things that we’re already doing, so that we can between now and 2020 show an increase in ambition through not necessarily pledges and commitments but in practical things that can be done on the ground in our countries, so that’s what we would look forward to.”

Many developing countries say they are still concerned the EU has not ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, agreed at UN talks in Doha last December.

Nicaragua’s delegation head Paul Oquist Kelley told RTCC this had created an atmosphere of distrust at the talks.

“We need to emphasise to our partners the need for them to fulfil their commitments, and that we can see no way to assume further commitments if they do not assume their mitigation and finance commitments.

Domestic targets

Sophie Yeo added:

Research by Climate Tracker Action coming out next week will show that the EU will have to increase its domestic 2020 target to a 45% emissions reduction target by 2020 if it is to maintain its position as a role model. This is an unlikely target, considering its current target of 20% emissions reductions.

The EU also needs to commit to the upper end of its target of an 80-95% emissions reduction by 2050, said Wendel Trio, director of the European branch of the Climate Action Network, speaking today at a panel in Warsaw.

This is a realistic target he said, as “continuing with this pathway of what we’ve done over the last five years will bring us to 95%.” This would involve a 2% reduction per year of emissions.

Discussions over a 2030 package are still ongoing, but the EU is due to release its preliminary decisions in January, which will be finalized in March.

Marion Vieweg-Mersmann of Climate Analytics told RTCC: “There is a strong link between the domestic discussions and the international discussions.

“The fear of many is that if we lock ourselves into non-ambitious targets until 2030 it’ll be too late, and the willingness of countries to increase their targets once they’ve made them official, we’ve seen in this process there’s not a great appetite for that.”

But Jakub Koniecki, a member of the Climate Action cabinet within the EU, told RTCC that he disagreed with the perception that the EU had taken a back seat in the current international negotiations, and that it continued to set an example to other countries.

He said: “Looking at what we do domestically and looking not only at the headline reduction targets, we are delivering on the Kyoto commitments obviously, but the instruments we have developed such as the emissions trading scheme, such as the way we finance things… these are things you can really easily copy if you like, so I think it is quite good leadership.”

Coping plan by the poorest

Nilima Choudhury’s report in RTCC said:

The poorest nations have released their plans to cope with climate change, as a debate over who pays for damage caused by extreme weather events rages at UN talks in Warsaw.

The 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) submitted their climate change adaptation programs to the UN’s climate change department, and say they will require $1.4bn to implement the plans.

“The preparation of these plans has served as a major catalyst for climate change action in the poorest countries, helping them to systematically undertake various activities towards climate change adaptation,” said Prakash Mathema, Chair of the LDC Group under the UNFCCC process.

“Awareness has been raised across all levels, and poor countries have gained human and institutional capacity for adaptation.”

The idea of the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) is to allow poor countries to assess the immediate impacts of change, for example drought and floods, and what they need in the way of support to become more resilient to climate change impacts.

For example, Angola is seeking to adapt its fisheries to climate change. Cambodia is looking to make its water supplies and agriculture more resilient. And Samoa is seeking to strengthen the infrastructure of communities which are dependent on tourism.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres welcomed the country submissions, adding that it was clear the “support to countries is presently inadequate and must urgently be stepped up.”

She added: “Now and in the future, the poorest and most vulnerable countries urgently require predictable finance and technology to become more resilient. Good planning is essential to empower poor countries to deal with climate change.”

Protests across Canada

A CBC report said:

Nearly 1,000 people gathered outside Vancouver's Science World to protest pipelines and oilsands expansion on Saturday.

Organizers say more than 130 protests against climate change were staged across Canada Saturday, with the largest gathering held in Vancouver where participants showed their opposition to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The protests were part of a national day of action to "Defend Our Climate." Outside Vancouver's Science World, nearly 1,000 participants held colorful signs while chanting and singing slogans, while others pounded on drums and played the bagpipes.

Rally participants said they fear Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would wreck havoc on the environment, bring tankers that would disrupt and endanger rare species along B.C.'s coast, and open oil shipments to Asia.

"It's about our world, our future, our children, our children's future," said Tamiko Suzuki, who rode her bike to the event.

"My children are really passionate about this. It's given me a renewed sense of hope, that there is a lot of energy and we can get that critical mass of people and we can rise up and say things and change things."

If approved, the almost 1,200-kilometre twin pipeline would carry about 525,000 barrels of petroleum per day from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast for shipment by tankers.

"Politicians might give the permits, but the people give the permission. And the people are saying 'no' to the Enbridge Gateway pipeline and others projects like that," said Ben West, oilsands campaign director for ForestEthics Advocacy.

"People who have pipelines in their backyard are definitely on the front lines of this fight ... But there are also many other Canadians who are concerned about climate change, they're concerned about Canada's role in the world, and they're concerned about doing the right thing."

Smaller rallies held across Canada

In Montreal, about 300 demonstrators gathered at Oka National Park on Saturday to protest against the expansion of oilsands production and pipelines bringing the oil east from Alberta.

And in Edmonton, about two dozen people braved the snow to rally against oilsands expansion and climate change at the Alberta Legislature.

In the northern B.C. city of Prince George, about 100 people participated in another anti-pipeline rally.

Murray Minchin, spokesman for the Kitimat-based conservation group Douglas Channel Watch, said his group is at "ground zero" for the proposal.

He wants the federal government to know that many people in northern communities are still against the Northern Gateway pipeline.

"Essentially, this is the last chance for us to send a message to Prime Minister Harper that he really has to rethink this," Minchin told CBC News.

"It's been a long process. People are understandably fatigued by the whole thing, but a lot of people have come up to me and mentioned that, 'You know, if there's anything happening and you need us to turn — just call and we'll be there.'"



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