Poznan: "Such a catastrophe"

It’s not even a full sentence, but when Katherine Trajan uttered those three words - “Such a catastrophe” - it seemed to sum up perfectly the declining state of our natural world and the tragic inadequacy of our response.

Trajan is just 25 – too young to be jaded, too bright, too pretty and too generally promising to be giving over to despair. Yet, as the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was drawing to a close in Poznan, Poland, there was surely a note of despair in her voice.

Originally from the Canadian town of Nanimo, B.C., she had come to Poland as one of 27 non-governmental observers in the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, and she had come with high hopes. “I came believing that these world leaders were going to come together, recognizing the seriousness of the (climate change) problem, make an agreement and then go home and do something about it.”

As it turns out: Not.

Poznan: Canada replaces U.S. as "single worst" country

After eight years during which the United States was consistently derided as the most obstructive force in international climate negotiations, Canada moved into worst place today, receiving the “Colossal Fossil” award for having done more than any other country to drag down talks at the UN climate negotiations in Poznan.

ACCCE Coal Carolers scrubbed, scrapped and gone forever (I hope)

The other day I wrote a post titled, “Give the gift of Asthma and a Warmer Planet this Christmas” on what might have to be the most blatant pro-coal marketing bafflegab in the history of the United States.

The campaign was run by the coal-industry front group the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricty (ACCCE) and it featured little lumps of coal that sang distateful pro-coal renditions of classic Christmas carols, like this:

As I wrote at the time, “… this latest publicity stunt is absolutely absurd and shows just how far the coal lobby is willing to go to market their dirty product as somehow being clean.

What we have here is a failure to communicate

But in Poznan, that can be a good thing; For some governments, it’s the whole point

Poland is a kaleidoscope of consonants. For an English speaker, accustomed to passing idle time by reading signs and advertisements, Poznan’s landscape is resolute in not surrendering meaning. Every word is a jumble of hard letters bumped together in a way that is, at first blush, entirely unintelligible.

But patience commands its own rewards. If you keep looking, you begin to see the familiar embedded in the strange. You can get lunch at the delicatesy, pay your hotel bill at recepcja or search for English-language programming on the telewizja – and if nature calls, the guys just have to be sure to go through the door marked dzentelmeni. Nothing to it.

No such clarity lurks in the halls of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Here, in the rabbit-warren of buildings cast across the Poznan fairgrounds, the 3,000 delegates and 5,000 observers have all agreed on a common language (English), but there seems to be a contest among participants to use that tongue to prevent, rather than enhance, understanding.

Poznan: Fiddling while Rome burns

As Canadian delegates to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Poznan, Poland struggle to prevent any progress toward a international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, Canadian scientist David Barber announces that climate change is coming faster and more furiously than even the most pessimistic modellers could have imagined.

Barber, speaking at the International Arctic Change 2008 conference this week in Quebec City, said sea ice in the Canadian Arctic, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said could melt as early as 2100, is now in danger of melting in 2015, nearly a century ahead of schedule.

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