OPINION – Success of the climate summit in Warsaw – conclusions after COP19

Credit BBC.co.uk

Credit bbc.co.uk

Here are four reasons why the UN organised 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) should be remembered as extraordinarily successful despite strained emotions, problems and controversies.

1.       Hosts’ success despite ecologic NGOs anti-Polish actions

Despite several initial difficulties, Poland managed to perform its role as the host of COP19 well. The main concern was the real possibility of hostile actions by ecology-oriented Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), aiming to boycott Poland’s position as host due to its opposition to decarbonisation policies and 90% of its economy being based on coal. Some NGOs came to Warsaw with the aim of confronting and discrediting the host of the summit, regardless of the power and virtue of their arguments. They appeared to forget that harassment and humiliation is not a path to progress. While calling Poland ‘Coaland’ and its government ‘Coalish’ might have brought attention to their position, in reality they only strengthened the Polish position as a strong and reliable government able to act diplomatically and be decisive even in such unfavourable conditions.

2.       Industry get involved

It may be hard to believe, but this summit was the first in the history of COP conferences when industrial lobbies took an active part on an equal footing to other organisations. Until now all the political decisions on CO2 reduction quotas were made without any consultation with industry representatives.

3.       Resolution – all for one, one for all  

One of the aims of the Polish presidency was to encourage all of the member states to participate in the future agreement, so the Paris resolution would have a worldwide and legally binding character. This was a turning point in international eco politics, as it created a real opportunity to make developing countries take an active part in counteracting climate change.

4.       The €25million budget was not wasted

The estimated cost of organizing COP19 was €25million. That is, indeed, a lot, but looking at the ultimate result of the conference, it is undeniable that the budget was well spent. Apart from the obvious economic benefits, the summit has shown that Poland is not only capable of hosting one of the most important international political events, but can also do so with considerable success.

Katarzyna Sowa

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Warsaw – Independence day

Video credit Euronews

SEVERAL demolished cars, destroyed pavement, uprooted trees, a burned rainbow, 12 wounded police officers and over one hundred arrested – that is the summary of the Independence March in Warsaw on the 11th November.

The March of 11th November – like last year and the year before – was organised by two far-right groups, The National Radical Camp,  which takes its name and logo from a fascist, pre-war Polish party, and the All Polish Youth, which describes itself as a nationalist-Catholic organization and fears that homosexuality might one day destroy the Polish Republic.

Organised to commemorate the end of World War I – the day when Poland regained its place on the map of Europe after having been wiped off for 123 years – is now anything but a peaceful and reflective procession. The police used pepper gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. The March was called off by city authorities after about 100 people were detained and 19 injured.

Fascists, nationalists, and soccer hooligans assembled for what looked like one of the largest far-right demonstrations to ever grace Europe’s streets, with an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people. The police reinforced Warsaw with thousands of officers, but the attendants still managed to attack and torch the symbols of everything they hate: gays, lefties, and Russians.

The protesters attacked two Warsaw squats and burnt a rainbow structure in the city centre. Rainbow effigies are often associated as a landscape symbol for supporting gay rights. The next target was the Russian Embassy, where the protesters threw Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and flares, trying to burn it down as well, attacking policemen and firemen and chanting anti-Russian and Nazi slogans at the same time.

Extreme-right assembles like this justify their violence as ‘police provocation’. Extreme-right supporters to see in protesters the patriotic elite of the Polish nation and defenders of collapsing morale. While the nationalist hooligans seem to make up a minority group, their actions reflect a particular shift in Polish society, including poor right-wing conservatives associated with Law and Justice Party, strongly dissatisfied with the liberal and pro-European government.

Let’s be under no illusions – the keynote of the Independence March was clear: anger, fear, frustration accompanied by poverty and boredom covered with nationalist slogans. This is just how worrying Poland’s attitude towards unsolved historic problems and LGBT community is becoming. Constantly repeated slogans against everything instead of chants of support will definitely cause serious problems in the future.

Katarzyna Sowa

Conference of the parties of the United Nations in Warsaw

Credit COP19.gov.pl

Credit COP19.gov.pl

THE COP19 Conference is the 19th Conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held together with the 9th session of the Meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

The conference is supposed to implement resolutions of the Convention by member states, as well as improve already proposed solutions regarding the emission of greenhouse gases. One of the proposed measures (and the only legally binding one) was the Kyoto Protocols, signed in 1997.

The 19th Conference takes place in the National Stadium in Warsaw from 11th to 22nd of November. During that time organisers expect to host about 12,000 delegates from 194 countries, including ministers of the environment, UN, NGOs and lobby groups representatives.

The main aim is to get together and marshal common standards and solutions for all the member states. The Warsaw Summit delegates are to work out the basis for a new worldwide agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gases – it is essential to state the preferred form of the future document, its duration and conditions for ratification (in short, all the steps that need to be taken before the Paris Summit in 2015).

The Polish Summit is the first of three conferences on the way to reach the agreement in terms of the reduction of greenhouse gases worldwide. In the same time Poland will hold the presidency as a part of the Climate Conference until the next summit in Peru, COP20 in 2014.

As climate change affects the whole world, it is a challenge for all countries to reach the agreement and take actions to counteract its further development into extreme climate phenomena like prolonged droughts or tornadoes. These problems endanger socio-economic development all over the world, which is why countries cannot be passive in taking action and procrastinate.

It is in their own best interest to effectively counteract climate change and work out appropriate solutions for all the member states, not only developed ones (as it was in Kyoto, 1997). The requirements need to be therefore proportional to the country’s capabilities and financial resources, ensuring the balance in action.

It is worth mentioning, that the EU is responsible for about 11% of the whole emission and has began decreasing it’s output successfully. However, even if all of the European countries reduced their emission quotas t ao minimum, the global climate changes would go on.  In order for any substantial progress to be achieved, a worldwide agreement is essential.

Katarzyna Sowa