November 21, 2013

Diary of a Corporate COP: how polluting industry is presenting its false solutions at COP19

BusinessEurope, the European Commission and the Polish fossil lobby
Source: Corporate Europe Observatory (
November 16th 2013, Climate and Energy

At the end of week one of the UN's 19th climate conference, and after thousands of people have today marched through Warsaw demanding real, just, effective and ambitious climate action, we take a look back at some of the polluters' propaganda events that have been happening inside, and outside, COP19.

The beginning of week one of COP19's corporate party brought an official side event inside the COP, on 12 November, called 'Low Emission Poland? Yes we (do) care!' It was organised by Forum of Gas and Electricity Receivers (yes, a massive gas and fossil fuel lobby), Forum CO2 (a Polish business and heavy industry club) and the Polish Ministry of Environment (the host of the climate talks and better known as the ministry of coal). The event attempted to portray the Polish government, ahem, as a friend of the climate. Present was not only the European Commission's Hans Bergman, from DG CLIMA, but none other than the European employer's federation BusinessEurope's very own Nick Campbell. Who – as you can read about in our COP19 lobby guide – is the head of notorious climate-action blockers BusinessEurope's climate change working group. Oh, and he works for chemicals giant Arkema. And did we mention that he used to simultaneously chair the climate group of chemicals lobby CEFIC and the Climate Change Task Force of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)? All of which lobby for false solutions to climate change: unjust and ineffective carbon markets that make the rich polluters richer and no less dirty; unconventional fossil fuels like environmentally and socially destructive shale gas; against binding or ambitious targets and mechanisms on emissions reductions or energy savings; and, of course, for the protection of their monopolies through intellectual property rights.

No surprise then that having infiltrated the COP, in an official side event, Campbell's message was about how industry is already doing its part, how important competitiveness is and that a low electricity price is crucial to that. Oh, and that the EU's flagship climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS, which has brought millions of euros in windfall profits to big business and industry whilst allowing them to continue without making domestic emissions reductions – see Carbon Markets box in the lobby guide) is already tough enough. As far as Campbell is concerned, you'll get competitiveness by getting a global agreement – by which he really means, a global agreement that treats all countries the same – in other words, one that ignores historical responsibility and climate justice, and so is not only unfair but in practice impossible. Because countries in the global South who are suffering most from climate change but did least to cause it would never accept such an unjust agreement.

Chemical industry lobby CEFIC was also on the panel, with its executive secretary William Garcia reiterating that the key word is competitiveness, and realism, and of course, making threats about carbon leakage from Europe. A threat for which, by the way, there is no evidence of, nothing to show that industry/ business is leaving or would leave the EU because of its climate and energy policies. But that didn't stop another panel member, hard right Polish ECR MEP Konrad Srymanski from insisting that Europe has already delivered so much, and that setting any kind of ambitious emissions reduction example is just ridiculous (climate justice, I hear you say?). According to Srymanski, it doesn't help, it is economically harmful, nobody is following “us” (Europe) – in fact, they just want to free-ride on our reductions!

Polish environment minister sacked as he chairs UN climate talks - COP19

(Source: AFP) The Govt of Poland is hell bent on pushing all forms of dirty energy, and is also trying to take opportunity of the ongoing climate summit to push for acceptance of these dirty energy sources - as climate solutions !!  The just sacked environment minister - who was COP President by virtue of being from the host country -- has just been sacked as he was reportedly opposing Poland's shale gas plans.

Poland's sacking of Environment Minister Marcin Korolec in a government reshuffle Wednesday sparked ire at the ongoing UN climate talks in Warsaw which he is chairing. Korolec was one of seven cabinet ministers -- including the finance minister -- replaced by Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a time when his centre-right government is battling low popularity, a sluggish economy and corruption allegations.

Poland's Environment Minister Marcin Korolec gives a statement after he was dismissed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk as part of a government reshuffle in Warsaw on November 20, 2013
AFP/AFP - Poland's Environment Minister Marcin Korolec gives a statement after
he was dismissed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk as part of a government reshuffle
in Warsaw on November 20, 2013
"This is nuts," Greenpeace Poland director Maciej Muskat said in a statement after the reshuffle. "Changing the minister leading the climate negotiations after a race to the bottom by parties of the convention shows Prime Minister (Donald) Tusk is not sincere about the need for an ambitious climate deal." The sacking comes with just over two days left in the annual round of UN climate talks that observers and delegates say have been marked by a worrying lack of progress.

Only two years from now, the world community is supposed to seal a historic pact that will roll back greenhouse gases and save Earth's climate system for future generations, while also helping poor countries exposed to worsening natural disasters. Tusk replaced Korolec with Maciej Grabowski, a proponent of hydraulic fracturing or fracking -- the controversial method of extracting hydrocarbons -- further setting off Muskat's ire.

"Justifying the change of the minister by the need to push the exploitation of another fossil fuel in Poland is beyond words, especially in the light of the majority of Poles wanting to see increased investment in renewables ? not fossil fuels," Muskat said. Korolec will continue however to preside over the UN climate negotiations until at least the next scheduled talks in Peru in December of next year and possibly the key 2015 negotiations in Paris.

Korolec will remain Poland's chief negotiator "for as long as is necessary", Tusk said. "Now I will be able to fully concentrate on the process of climate negotiations," Korolec told reporters Wednesday. Grabowski, who officially takes over on November 27, said exploiting shale gas in Poland would be "his priority".

Poland, which wants to continue exploiting its coal to ensure energy independence from Soviet-era master Moscow, also plans to tap its shale gas deposits, to the horror of environmentalists. Total investment in exploration and development of the shale gas sector by domestic and foreign companies could reach 12.5 billion euros ($16.9 billion) by 2020.

Last month, Lane Energy Poland -- controlled by US energy giant ConocoPhilips -- began shale gas extraction at a test well in northern Poland.   

November 20, 2013

Poor countries clamoring for aid slam into 'hard reality' in Warsaw

Jean Chemnick and Lisa Friedman, E&E reporters
Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 

WARSAW, Poland -- The top U.S. negotiator on climate change has effectively ruled out any new American pledge this year to a U.N. fund for helping poor countries cope with global warming, but vulnerable nations and human rights groups gathered for the climate summit here refuse to accept that.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called climate finance "critical" in his first press briefing of the summit today.

Pointing to Typhoon Haiyan, which he said puts "an anguished human face" on climate change, he said, "I would really hope all this tragic devastation would really give us a wake-up call."

He avoided directly speaking to the finance fight here but said of the call from developing countries for clarity about how the rich world will deliver $100 billion annually by 2020, "I sincerely hope the developed world should keep their promise so all the nations of the planet Earth can move together."

But U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said in a speech last month at London's Chatham House that the "hard reality" is that the world's wealthiest nation will not increase its climate aid "anytime soon."

"The fiscal reality of the United States and other developed countries is not going to allow it," he said.

But those who advocate for countries that will bear the brunt of climate change say such statements show that industrialized countries whose emissions have driven global warming are trying to abdicate responsibility.

Speaking on the first day of high-level negotiations, green groups lamented today that the environmental ministers filing into Poland's National Stadium have not come armed with promises of new aid in the near term or with details on how they plan to help supply $100 billion a year in assistance by 2020, some of which will be funneled through the Green Climate Fund.

And a few countries, notably Australia, have even rescinded past offers of climate-related assistance.

"It's sort of like a football game, except nobody is scoring goals and some countries are scoring against their own goals," said Liz Gallagher, a senior policy adviser at the U.K. think tank E3G. Her analogy was tailored to the stadium venue for this year's Conference of the Parties (COP) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Developing countries and their supporters are particularly stung because they say this year was to have been "the finance COP." They have won few concessions from their wealthier counterparts in recent years, they note, on stemming the emissions driving the rise in sea levels, more frequent storms and diminished water supplies that threaten the livelihoods of their people. But last year's round of talks in Doha, Qatar, did end with a pledge that this year would include a first-of-its-kind ministerial meeting during which they could air their concerns.

That meeting is set for tomorrow, but advocates say it will be an empty gesture if no one comes armed with new pledges of assistance.

"This token of faith is actually proving to be a big lie," said Alix Mazounie of the Climate Action Network. "We have no climate champions here in Warsaw."

'I don't know what they're waiting for'

The United States, meanwhile, has entered this year's round of talks in a relatively strong position.

Stern and his team -- supported by top administration staff members like White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley -- have touted President Obama's new Climate Action Plan. And although it has been viewed as a pariah in past rounds, the world's largest historical emitter enters this year's talks within striking distance of its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Australia and Japan, meanwhile, have drawn ire for backing away from their pledges.

But climate-vulnerable countries say that if the United States does nothing additional to help poor nations deal with the unavoidable results of past emissions, efforts to curb future emissions will not be enough.

Asked whether the introduction of Obama's climate plan made any difference in the talks, Lucille Sering, secretary of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, said it did not.

"Somehow, when they negotiate, they always find some way to excuse themselves from doing anything," Sering said. "It's always either they can't do this or they can't do that."

Speaking after a press conference on the Philippines' effort to rebuild after this month's massive Typhoon Haiyan -- which killed thousands -- Sering said that the Philippines would use its co-chairmanship of the Green Climate Fund to accelerate development of the fund so that money could flow through it as soon as possible. The United States and other countries have said they prefer not to make concrete pledges to the
post-2020 fund for adaptation and mitigation finance until they know how the fund will be organized and administered.

But Sering dismissed these concerns as excuses by wealthy nations not to provide what they should in light of Haiyan and new reports like the one released earlier this fall by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that showed increasing certainty that human-caused emissions are driving dangerous warming.

"We don't know what else that we need to prove that this is happening and that support is needed," she said.

Sering noted that the United States has provided substantial assistance to the Philippines since Haiyan hit -- a sum that now totals $37 million in pledges.

"We're very grateful, because somehow, when push comes to shove, everybody acts," she said.

But when it comes to preventive funding to shore up vulnerable nations against the effects of climate change, she said, "I don't know what they're waiting for."

African adaptation needs

Nor are island nations like the Philippines the only ones that will feel the humanitarian and financial pain of changing weather patterns.

African leaders today unveiled a U.N. Environment Programme report finding that adapting to the impacts of climate change could cost the continent $350 billion annually by the end of the century if emissions continue on course.

Already, the report found, Africa faces between $7 billion and $15 billion in expenses like protecting lands from increased flooding or developing new crop varieties. And even if countries rein in rising greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperatures from rising beyond the level that scientists call catastrophic, costs to Africa will still be $25 billion annually in the 2040s and $200 billion annually by the 2070s.

"What is really mind-boggling is that in recent days, we have seen the Philippines typhoon," said Uganda Minister of Water and Environment Ephraim Kamuntu.

Linking Haiyan -- one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded -- and climate change, Kamuntu said, "The cost of not doing anything, the cost of waiting is much more than if we act and prevent. Just stretch your mind and see what is waiting for us if we don't take action."

Tosi Mpanu, head of the African group of negotiators at the U.N. talks here, said he remains optimistic that money will come through for vulnerable countries, or at minimum, clarity about how much money will come and when.

He pinned hopes on a ministerial-level meeting tomorrow on finance, saying a key element will be defining how much wealthy countries will give poor ones in the years leading up to 2020. By that year, rich nations have pledged to mobilize public and private dollars totaling
$100 billion annually.

"But what is the pathway?" Mpanu asked, noting that poor countries received about $10 billion last year. He called for a pledge in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion annually by 2015 so countries can be sure that the so-called fast-start financing that poured in over the past three years for immediate needs won't disappear.

Right now, there is no clarity on post-fast-start financing. "We don't know if this year we are going to fall off the cliff," he said.

Saleem Huq, a senior fellow at the U.K. think tank International Institute for Environment and Development who works with a group of least-developed countries, agreed, saying: "What's the in-between number? Give us a figure."

Pleas for U.S. compassion

The United States has objected to putting a new mid-decade pledge on the table, and there have been no signs this week of a willingness to bend. Nor has it given even a tentative figure for what it might contribute to the Green Climate Fund.

Ruth Davis of Greenpeace yesterday said it is disappointing that the United States has not become more willing to commit to adaptation efforts even after its experience last year with Superstorm Sandy, the massive storm that ravaged the Eastern Seaboard, launching a recovery process that is still ongoing.

It is also discouraging, she said, because the $100 billion a year was an American proposal made in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.

"One has to start with just the simple fact of remembering that [then- Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton was involved in making that pledge toward 100b of climate finance by 2020," she said. "We have seen really very little from the U.S. in terms of a concrete view of how they're going to achieve their fair share of that."

Former Irish President Mary Robinson, speaking this weekend at an event on climate and business in Warsaw, called on the United States to show more compassion for the world's poor, who will suffer the most in a climate change-altered world.

The world's richest nation has shirked that duty, she said, even when it comes to protecting its own poor citizens. Some parts of New Orleans are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, even though the landmark storm occurred more than eight years ago, said Robinson, who now heads a foundation on climate justice that bears her name.

"I would welcome more leadership from the United States," she said, adding that she hoped that a disagreement between rich and poor countries over assessing and compensating loss and damage from climate change would not derail these talks.

"That is becoming an issue now for communities that know that there is probably going to be a complete undermining of their livelihoods," she said, calling Haiyan "a portent of things to come."

"We're going to see more of that, and we know that," she said.

'There is not going to be any money'

But while some advocates attending the summit expressed impatience with the United States for what it has not done, others applauded it for what it has done.

"I wouldn't be as pessimistic as most people," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "There is real money flowing to clean energy in the real world."

Schmidt noted that the federally backed Overseas Private Investment Corp. has taken steps to spur solar energy investment in India and Chile. Obama's plan also all but ends U.S. backing for coal-fired power plants overseas.

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that the main barrier to future pledges of climate aid is Congress, especially in the current era of tight budgets and partisan rancor.

"I think in this current budget situation for this current fiscal year, it's probably pretty tough," he said.

But he held out hope that even Republican lawmakers might look at adaptation and green energy funding more favorably in the future.
Business could help by talking about the job-creation possibilities of investing in green technology for overseas markets, he said, while the faith community could reach out on adaption.

"So you see some constituencies that are part of the Republican political base entering into this with arguments that are different perhaps from the ones Republicans are expecting to hear from the environmental community, for example," he said. "A purely environmental message may not resonate."

But GOP strategist Mike McKenna said in an email to Greenwire that Republicans are unlikely to back climate change aid anytime soon. "I give that a zero chance of happening," he said.

"We are having trouble finding cash for the farm bill. For American farmers," he added. "We have lots of members of Congress who want to spend more money on defense. American defense.

"There is not going to be any money (beyond maybe a symbolic pittance) for climate finance in the developing world," he said.

November 19, 2013

Beyond Copenhagen Side event at COP 19 - "Climate Change in Post 2015 Development Agenda"

Climate Change in Post 2015 Development Agenda
Beyond Copenhagen Side event at COP 19
13th November, 16.45 hours, Room Crakow, National Stadium, Warsaw 

Beyond Copenhagen organized a side event on ''Climate Change in Post-2015 Development Agenda" on 13th November 2013 at COP 19. The side event discussed how climate change has not been addressed adequately in post 2015 development agenda, and why it is extremely crucial to have a global agreement before 2015. The panellists included Ajay K Jha (PAIRVI), Soumya Dutta (Bharat Jan Vigyan jathha), Samuel Samson (PACJA), and Manu Shrivastava (CECOEDECON). Justice (Retd) V S Dave chaired the panel discussion.


In his opening remarks Ajay Jha said that there are three processes (UNFCCC negotiations, post 2015 development agenda of the United Nations, and Open Working Group on the SDGs), which will have a significant bearing on the future of the world. He added that while there have been no visible progress negotiations in the UNFCC, other two processes have not addressed climate change in the right earnest. He said that in light of new evidences (IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, 2015, WMO Report 2001-2010, A decade of climate extremes, 2015, and UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2012), it was imperative that discussion on climate change in post 2015 development agenda should be reviewed. Referring to Haiyan, floods and landslide in Uttarakhand, Nargis in Myanmar and Floods in Pakistan, he said the decade has signature of climate extremes. He also added that science is clear and categorical that more concerted and urgent efforts are needed for climate stabilization. Referring to the Report of the HLPE, he remarked that while the report has many good things, it is an opportunity missed in terms of many aspects of development. He elaborated that the report reiterates the commitment to prevent rise in temperature beyond 2 degrees, but does nothing more to encourage political polarization around the issues.
Mr. Samuel Samson (PACJA) dwelt on climate impacts in Africa, and explained how the climate smart agriculture, and investments in land are divesting small farmers of their rights, land, and natural resources. He referred to the droughts in East Africa, and that many countries are suffering serious drought like conditions. He added that climate change impacts call for urgent attention, financial and technology support. He added that agriculture is under immense pressure and farmers in many countries like Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda have been belied by Climate Smart projects. They have neither helped production, not they have provided any financial help to the farmers, who are feeling cheated. He added that climate change impacts have also exacerbated forced migration. He added that here at COP 19 PACJA demands a new framework to protect climate refugees and a mechanism on loss and damage.
Soumya Dutta from Bharat Jan Vigyan Jathha spoke on the energy, climate change and sustainable development linkages. He emphasized that the HLPE report lays down a business as usual approach and does not offer anything new. He emphasized that it envisions and an increased role for business and private enterprise, and thus provides an opportunity to the rich countries to abrogate their responsibilities. Referring to the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEA4ALL) initiative, he said that, equity in access to energy is clearly a missing link. He added that though the HLPE Report acknowledges right to access to modern energy services, the approach is riddled with problems and false solutions. He also referred to the extreme climatic event in the Uttarakhand and Himachal in India, and said that Beyond Copenhagen’s assessments of Loss and damage revealed huge gaps between rehabilitation efforts and needs of the people who have been impacted. Elaborating on the impact he emphasized that never in the history Uttarakhand received so early and heavy monsoon, and there are sufficient evidence to say that the phenomenon was caused due to climate change impacts. He emphasized that more than 7% population of the world today faces climate threats, and there is an urgent need to address impacts within and outside the UNFCCC negotiations, post 2015 being one, there must be a greater convergence among them. He also demanded that a climate agreement must be reached by 2015, and it must be based on core principles of equity and CBDR, and a mechanism on loss and damage is set up to help people in poor countries who are facing climate extremes.
Manu Shrivastava (CECOEDECON) shared her experiences of state of play and discussion on climate in the post 2015 development agenda. She said that climate does not figure very prominently in the regional processes on post 2015, and though NGLS conducted an extensive regional processes, where climate change was emphasized, yet the report gave a short shrift to climate change by only acknowledging the global commitment to prevent rise in temperature below 2Degrees Celsius. She added, that CECOEDECON’s experience and work with farmers and women shows that impacts like unpredictability of rains, delayed monsoon withdrawal, lack of adaptation support and adaptation limits, capacity building and risk coverage etc. threaten not only agricultural production but also entire rural economy.  She emphasized that countries whose economy is dependent on agriculture, and countries, which are highly vulnerable (climate extremes), they ask for increased attention to climate change in post 2015 world.

Justice VS Dave, in his chair’s remarks emphasized that all the speakers have reiterated that climate stabilization should be high priority in post 2015 development agenda, which must support early reduction of emissions in rich countries and low carbon development pathways in developing and poor countries. He highlighted that impacts are affecting a large part of humanity world over and demands a comprehensive, science based, just climate deal without delay. He also added, that within climate change, agriculture and food and energy services must also be looked at from the equity point of view rather than in only in terms of reduction of emission.
A Beyond Copenhagen Publication “Engaging with Climate Crisis; Perspectives on Critical Aspects of Climate Change” was also released at the side event. Justice Pana Chand Jain delivered the vote of thanks.

Leave coal in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe, UN tells industry

Intensity of UN climate chief Christina Figueres's remarks take coal industry leaders and environment groups by surprise
La Cygne power plant, Kansas 19/1/12
The La Cygne coal-fired power plant in eastern Kansas. Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP
Most of the world's coal reserves should be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming, the UN's climate chief has told the $3tn global industry.
In a speech to a gathering of industry executives, Christina Figueres challenged the industry to urgently transform itself, diversify into renewable energy and "radically change … rapidly and dramatically for everyone's sake". "By now it should be abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can go ahead only if they are compatible with the 2C limit", she said at the international coal and climate summit in Warsaw, being held at the same time as UN climate talks.

Figueres said they had "the opportunity to be part of the worldwide climate solution" by switching off old coal power plants, capturing and storing carbon from new plants and leaving most of the world's coal reserves in the ground. She also said coal power could help poorer countries' economic development and poverty reduction, but that the industry "must change".

"I urge every coal company to honestly assess the financial risks of business as usual; anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance restrictions and diminishing public acceptance," she said.
Figueres was later backed by the energy minister, Greg Barker, who is in Warsaw for the UN negotiations. "Coal represents the biggest threat to climate stability in the medium term. If we can keep coal in the ground it could have a profound impact on the growth of the world economy. The question is how do we keep unabated coal in the ground," he said.

But Barker backed gas over renewables. "Gas is the way to ensure we burn less coal over the next two decades," he said. At a later press conference, Figures said the industry needed a "deep, deep transformation" and should reinvent itself as a developer of renewable energy.

"They really need to do a major, major rethink and a major shift in the deployment of their capital [towards renewable energy] … there is no doubt they are the energies of the future," she said.
Her remarks took both the coal industry and environment groups by surprise. The industry had invited her to talk in expectation that she would legitimise their continuing growth if they adopted new technologies. The activists had been critical of her talking to the industry at all.

But it is thought Figueres was stung by insistent youth groups at the UN conference who reportedly admonished her for being prepared to talk to the coal industry but not to them. In a nod to their presence, she called on the industry to "see the next generation's bottom line".

The industry declined to respond directly but argued that significant emissions reductions could be achieved by improving the efficiency of coal-fired plants using "high efficiency" coal. But this was rebutted by a group of 27 international scientists meeting in Warsaw who agreed with Figueres, saying that nearly 75% of the world's coal reserves had to be left in the ground if global warming was to be limited to a 2C rise.

In a joint statement, the scientists – from the US, Germany, Japan, China, India, Brazil and South Africa – rebutted claims that high-efficiency coal can be a low-emissions technology. Using International Energy Agency estimates of world coal reserves, the group said that burning just 26% of the reserves would break the global "carbon budget", lifting temperatures above the 2C threshold which has been adopted as a goal for the UN climate talks.

"We are not saying there is no future for coal", said ProfessorPR Shukla of the Indian Institute of Management, "but that unabated coal combustion is not compatible with staying below the 2C limit."
Milton Catelin, chief executive of the World Coal Association, said: "We're not going to meet our climate objectives if we are not all part of the solution. Ms Figueres has shown she shares the WCA's view that multi-stakeholder dialogue is key to tackling climate change."

Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace's international climate director, welcomed the speech. "She gave the right warning to investors that any new investment into coal-fired power plants is a financial risk as there will be increasing regulation, growing finance restrictions and diminishing public acceptance."

November 18, 2013

Global Climate Risk Index 2013 Released at the UN climate Summit - And South Asia is high up on risks.

Global Climate Risk Index released:: Super Typhoon Haiyan draws attention to wide-spread extreme climate risks.
The devastation caused by the recent super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda to the Philippines people) in the Philippines has drawn the world's attention with its massive loss of human lives and physical damage, and the fact that this happened just as the UN climate negotiations were beginning - have strongly brought home the message that unless the global comity of nations tackle climate changing emissions at the earliest and at the fastest pace, the world will see many such climate disasters.
The climatic disaster in the Indian (and part of Nepal) Himalayas, in the month of June, where also the official death figures crossed 5000 (the ground reports speaks about more than double that figure), in the mountain States of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, seem to be already fading out of public memory. Is this going to be the pattern -- the shock of a massive disaster raises our concerns, puts people in to action mode -- only for a brief while, after which the lull, the complacency returns !! Back to the Business As Usual pathways!
On the 2nd day of the UN climate Conference (COP19) here in Warsaw, this year's "Global Climate Risk Index" was officially released, and not so surprisingly - Haiti topped the list, because of the nearly 200,000 people who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy, and the total devastation of the small nations economy and public infrastructure by that impact.
The list is prepared by GermanWatch, from different damage data, but largely supplied by insurance industry, and is thus - limited. The categorization is done based on losses of lives and property from climate events, from 1993 to 2012. Haiti was the worst affected, followed by Philippines and Pakistan.
It needs to be noted that all the top (!) ten countries - those that have suffered maximum damages from climate disasters from 1993 to 2012, are developing, often the poorest (in terms of per capita income) countries. And more alarmingly for those of us from the area known as "South Asia", almost all SA countries (except Sri Lanka and Maldives) are there in the ill-famous Top-Ten! And a reminder, this do not include the massive disasters in India in 2013 - either in the Himalayas or in Odisha & Andhra Pradesh coasts from the near-super cyclone Phailin.

Beyond Copenhagen Side Event (13th November, 2013, Room Cracow) and Stall

Panel at the Beyond Copenhagen side event "Climate Change in Post-2015 Development Agenda"

Panel at the Beyond Copenhagen side event "Climate Change in Post-2015 Development Agenda"

Beyond Copenhagen side event "Climate Change in Post-2015 Development Agenda"

Panel at the Beyond Copenhagen side event "Climate Change in Post-2015 Development Agenda", inaugurating the publication.

Beyond Copenhagen Delegation in front of their booth. 

November 14, 2013

Un-official introduction to the host country of COP-19 :: POLAND

Bankwatch Mail - November 11, 2013

Dear Participant to the 19th UN Climate Summit, welcome to Poland!
Let us introduce you to the country hosting the climate conference this year, and provide you with a short overview of the land and its people. This is indeed information you may not find in official Polish government brochures. However, we believe that the hospitality Poland is famous for requires that you have a clear picture of what the Polish Presidency of COP19 stands for.
Poland is the second largest coal producer in Europe, after Germany. In 2012 Poland produced 158 million tons of coal, which typically accounts for around 20 percent of total coal production in Europe. Also in 2012, 83 percent of electricity produced in the country was derived from coal burning (pdf). According to recent energy mix scenarios prepared by the Chancellery of the Polish prime minister, Poland plans to continue to base its energy system on coal: even after 2050, it is currently envisaged that 60-80 percent of Polish electricity will be produced from coal.



Hard coal and lignite in currently tapped deposits are being gradually exhausted, so there are plans to prepare and realise the use of several new deposits by 2030 (pdf): the hard coal deposits of 'Bzie-Dꢩna', '歩㯷ice' and 'Brzezinka', and the lignite deposits of 'Legnica' and 'Gubin,' as well as the satellite deposits of operating mines. Poland's former chief geologist and former deputy minister of the environment has said that the Polish Energy Policy to 2030 will lock Poland into an economic model that dates from the beginning of the twentieth century. Of the EU-28, Poland is leading the way when it comes to the number of new hard coal and lignite power plants being planned. This is due to Poland’s largely outdated energy system, where two thirds of the installed generation capacity is more than 30 years old. In order to tackle this, at present 12 GW of new coal and lignite capacity is planned. According to Dr. Micha㠗ilczyᳫi, Poland's former chief geologist and former deputy minister of the environment, the new coal and nuclear power plants planned within the Polish Energy Policy to 2030 will, for at least the next 80 years, lock Poland into an economic model that dates from the beginning of the twentieth century.


International relations

Once you scratch below the rhetorical surface it emerges that Poland imports a significant share of the hard coal it uses. Large deposits of coal, it is claimed by Polish officialdom, are playing a major role in ensuring Poland’s energy security (pdf). However, on the contrary, once you scratch below the rhetorical surface it emerges that Poland imports a significant share of the hard coal it uses: in 2011, the country imported 15 million tons of hard coal, while 76.4 million tons was extracted in Polish mines. According to Dr. Wilczyᳫi, by 2030 the extraction volume of hard coal in Poland will be less than is imported. Growing imports result from the discrepancy between the price of Polish coal and coal prices on the international markets.



Polish prime minister Donald Tusk continues to insist that Poland will continue to base its energy system on coal, because lignite in particular is the cheapest source of electricity. However, of course, Tusk and his advisers – not to mention the vocal coal lobby in Poland – fail to take into account the hidden social and environmental costs racked up by producing power from lignite – huge costs being paid daily by Polish society. According to Professor Mariusz Kude, these so called external costs associated with lignite power plants, and specifically from the two planned open-pit mines Legnica and Gubin, would amount to PLN 10 billion annually. The calculation considers harm to human health, materials, farming, biodiversity and land use changes. Professor Kude has pointed out that health impacts constitute more than half of these costs (pdf).

Health care
Health specialists say that Polish coal fired power stations cause 1,000 hospital admissions and 800,000 lost working days per year, costing patients, the national health system and the economy at large nearly EUR 8 billion per year in lost productivity. This data is confirmed by a report from the Health and Environment Alliance published in June this year. The scientific evidence that air pollution causes disease is no longer in doubt, according to Dr Michal Krzyzanowski, an epidemiologist working until recently at the World Health Organisation. Krzyzanowski says: “Circulatory and respiratory diseases associated with exposure to air pollution lead to a reduction in life expectancy of 10 months in the Polish population. Coal combustion, both in the electric power plants and in individual households, is the single biggest source of this pollution in Poland.” (pdf)



And it is not as if Poland has no choice when it comes to energy sources. Dr. Maciej Bukowski, one of the authors of a recently published report 'Roadmap 2050: Low Emission Poland 2050' and president of the Institute for Structural Research, has said that the decisions that we need to take now will decide whether Poland maintains the rate at which it catches up with the leading economies in the world. Bukowski warns, however, that there exists the risk of a 'middle income trap' for Poland, similar to that observed in Spain, Portugal and Greece, after their periods of dynamic growth. He says: “We are doing too little to prevent this. We focus too much on the cost of reforms, and not enough on the potential benefits. A low-emission climate policy is no exception.”
Meanwhile, president of the Institute for Sustainable Development, Dr. Andrzej Kassenberg, believes that Poland should not hide behind others and not negotiate, but instead see a potential innovative, green economy as an opportunity, and not only for climate issues.

November 11, 2013

Beyond Copenhagen at COP19, Warsaw, Poland (11-22 November 2013)

1. Side Event at COP19

Dear Friends

We are pleased to invite all attending COP19 in Warsaw to an official side event organized and hosted by Beyond Copenhagen in collaboration with CECOEDECON, PAIRVI, SADED and BJVJ.

"Climate Change & Post 2015 Development Agenda; Implications on Agriculture and Livelihoods for Poor"

A new agreement on Climate change, Post MDGs development agenda and adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals converge in 2015. It has huge implications for development, agriculture and food, and livelihoods. The panel discussion will explore how climate change, agriculture and food, and energy are positioned in these debates.

Venue: Room Cracow, National Stadium, Warsaw
Date: Wednesday 13 November 2013
Time: 16:45 - 18:15

Light refreshments will be served after the side event. We look forward to seeing you at the event!!

Contact person:

Ajay Jha -
Soumya Dutta -


2. PreCOP Consultation on
"Priorities and Expectations from COP 19"
5th November 2013, New Delhi - India

In the series of consultations that Beyond Copenhagen has been organizing to draw attention of policy makers and public actors on priority areas for policy and action on climate change, recently, a PreCOP Consultation on “Priorities and Expectations from COP 19” was organized in New Delhi on 5th November 2013. The event hosted Deputy Minister of Environment from Poland, Mrs. Beata Jaczewska, along with representatives from key actors including China, Mexico, Australia and Norway. The press release of the event is as follows:

“Warsaw will not rewrite the Convention” inclusiveness, transparency and fair process to be main pillars at Warsaw COP, says Polish Dy Env Minister at Delhi

Deputy Minister of Environment from Poland Mrs. Beata Jaczewska said that Conference of Parties at Warsaw will focus on inclusiveness, transparency and fairness of the process. Speaking at a civil society PreCOP Consultation in Delhi, she emphasized that Warsaw will make all efforts to have a clear road map till Paris. She added that Poland along with Peru and France is working on a “Troika approach,” which would ensure that a draft of agreement is ready before March 2015 so that a decision can be reached at Paris. Allaying civil society apprehensions she emphasized that Warsaw will not rewrite the Convention. She also underlined that “our focus is on adaptation, and climate finance, however we understand that all parts of negotiations mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation are equally important and we will try to address all of these.”

The Conference of Parties (COP) taking place at Warsaw during 11th to 23rd November, the PreCOP Consultation was organized by Beyond Copenhagen in collaboration with MISEREOR and Oxfam India.  Representatives from key actors including the China, Australia, Norway, Mexico, also shared their expectations from the COP 19.

Earlier during the day, the Consultation witnessed a discussion among the civil society organizations on the expectations from the COP 19. Civil society demanded clear, categorical, and decisive action towards a just, appropriate and equity based framework for climate stabilization. Vanita Suneja from Oxfam India said that the current gap in climate finance is alarming and developing countries including India are rightly concerned about the lack of support they can expect over the coming years, in particular the provision of adequate public finance. Vijay Pratap from South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED) said that climate science demands clear action and sufferings of the people brook no delay. Chandrabhushan from CSE said that mitigation ambitions will have to be enhanced on a significant scale to bring emissions from current 50 gigatonnes to 44 gigatonnes, which is essential to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. He also added that there are no proposals on how equity can be operationalized till now and therefore, it’s important that Warsaw COP comes up with a clear road map with specific targets and timelines.

Sanjay Vashishth from CANSA said that Warsaw must close the gigatone gap and clear commitments on climate finance. Manish Srivastava from TERI said that new market mechanisms must interact with non market based mechanisms to create an enabling conditions so that markets could achieved their envisioned role in mitigation. He also added that the biggest challenge before Warsaw is to restore faith in international negotiations which has been eroding fast due to lack of progress. Soumya Dutta from Beyond Copenhagen said that despite finance being a hot issue for several previous meetings, we do not have desired numbers on the table till now, COP must address this without losing any time. Sharad Joshi from CECOEDECON said that to succeed at Warsaw we must succeed in building blocks at Warsaw and Lima. Ajay Jha from PAIRVI said that the recent IPCC report, WMO report and report of the UNEP brings unequivocal evidences of impact of climate change and wartime efforts are required to meet the demands of the science and address all the critical areas of mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation. Over 100 representatives from CSOs, media and embassies and high commissions in Delhi attended the Consultation.

Coordinator, Beyond Copenhagen