Poland

Rename Coal to Save It, Suggests UN Climate Talks Sponsor

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JSW, the coal company sponsoring the UN climate negotiations in Poland, has a plan to revive the coal industry: rename coal.

Daniel Ozon, CEO of JSW, believes that coking coal has been tainted by association with thermal coal, and that investors are backing away as a result.

But he thinks a “fancy new name” for coking coal could help.

Polish Trade Union And Climate Science Denial Group Issue Statement Rejecting Scientific Consensus on Climate Change At COP24

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A Polish trade union has issued a joint statement with a notorious American climate science denial group rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

The statement, signed by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute and the trade union Solidarity was released as UN climate talks took place in Katowice, the centre of Poland’s coal heartland region of Silesia.

The talks, known as COP24, are widely considered to be the most important climate meeting since the 2015 summit in Paris and will aim to finalise the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement.

Polish Coal Company Announced as First Sponsor of UN Climate Talks in Katowice

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Bełchatów lignite coal mine, Poland

One of Poland’s leading coal companies has become the first official sponsor of the UN climate talks, which start in the southern city of Katowice next week.

Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa (JSW), a majority state-owned corporation and the European Union's largest producer of high-quality coking coal, has announced the partnership with COP24 in a statement on its website.

The Polish Environment minister later announced that several other coal-sector companies had been chosen to sponsor this year's climate talks. 

JSW said the partnership would guarantee “the company’s active participation in the event and the possibility of promoting pro-ecological changes in the mining sector”.

Kicking Big Polluters Out Of Climate Talks 'Not Very Useful', Says Poland's Climate Envoy

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By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

Poland’s climate envoy dismissed calls to keep polluters out of UN talks, ahead of a controversial negotiation in Bonn on Thursday about widening participation.

Activists outside the talks put pressure on the EU to support a conflict of interest policy for businesses getting involved in the process. They argue that fossil fuel companies are a malign influence and weaken climate ambition to protect their profits.

But Tomasz Chruszczow, who has a leading role in this December’s Katowice climate summit, told Climate Home News in an interview he did not recognise that problem.

We want everybody in this action,” he said. “Even if they are now generating electricity from fossil fuels – the majority of electricity comes from fossil fuels – still it is changing, but it is a process.

International Coal and Climate Summit Hears Tough Love from UNFCCC Head As Protests Highlight Poland's Coal Addiction

Read time: 4 mins

The second week of the COP19 UN climate change conference in Warsaw kicked off today with a focus on the continuing obstruction of the bad actors in the process - Japan, Australia and Canada - as well as the head-scratching decision by the Polish government to co-host a ‘clean coal’ conference just down the street from the national stadium where the COP19 UN negotiations are taking place.

This morning, Greenpeace unfurled a banner on the front of Poland’s Ministry of Economy building in protest of the World Coal Association’s International Coal and Climate Summit taking place inside. Beneath the banner, activists held a People Before Coal rally (#Cough4Coal), inflating a giant set of pink lungs and calling for an immediate phase-out of coal plants worldwide in order to safeguard public health, ecosystems and the global climate.

Poland’s move to co-host the World Coal Association’s ‘clean coal’ summit in the midst of the UNFCCC conference is widely seen here as a slap in the face to the assembled delegates, NGOs and activists from around the world. **Update: Poland was awarded the Fossil of the Day award on Monday for its coal boosterism, and activists have re-named the country #Coaland on Twitter.**

The fact that the Coal and Climate Summit is being held under the auspices of the Polish government is further proof that it cares neither for the well-being of its citizens nor the environment,” Dr. Michal Wilczynski, the former Chief Geologist and ex-Deputy Minister of Environment in Poland said in a statement.

Inside the coal industry summit, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, had some tough love to share with the assembled coal executives. The coal industry “must change rapidly and dramatically,” she said, noting that coal has “an unacceptably high cost to human and environmental health.” She stressed that the world must “leave most existing [coal] reserves in the ground” in order to avert climate chaos. 

“The IPCC's findings have been endorsed by 195 governments, including all of those in which you operate. We are at unprecedented greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere; our carbon budget is half spent. If we continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than two degree Celsius.”

Figueres concluded with an appeal to the executives to “look past next quarter's bottom line and see the next generation's bottom line.”

Poland Partners with Coal and Oil Corporate Sponsors for COP19 Climate Conference

Read time: 4 mins

On Tuesday, the Polish Government - host of the UNFCCC COP19 international climate negotiations - announced twelve corporate partners of the conference. While the Polish Environment Ministry suggests, “The products and services they [the partners] offer are green,” many of the corporate partners’ histories tell stories of a different hue.

This rare decision to openly embrace corporate partners for COP19 begs the question of whether this is simply a greenwashing exercise for the coal and oil corporations involved.

The COP19 corporate partners include:

Alstom Power: The French energy company was one of seven finalists for the People’s Public Eye Awards in 2013 for its numerous bribery scandals. Alstom claims to be a key component of nearly 25% of the world’s power production capacity.

Among other services, Alstom builds coal power plants. A fact sheet on the company’s website states that Alstom is the original equipment manufacturer for 95% of Poland’s coal power plant fleet installed since 1990. Alstom is currently seeking to play a major role in the construction of two new 900 megawatt coal plants in Poland.

Alstom will provide free drinking water and cups to conference attendees.

Shale Gas Industry Brings PSYOPs and Spy Ops to Poland

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Roughly a year ago today in Houston, the shale gas industry was caught red-handed discussing its use of military tactics and personnel on U.S. soil to intimidate and divide communities in order to continue its fracking bonanza. 

In a gathering thought to be exclusively among friends, one industry public relations professional representing Range Resources, Matt Pitzarella, said his company utilizes psychological warfare (PSYOPs) tactics on citizens living in the Marcellus Shale basin. The Marcellus is one of the epicenters of the global hydraulic fracturing boom (“fracking”).

Matt Carmichael, External Affairs Manager at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, told attendees, “we are dealing with an insurgency,” referring to citizens concerned about the impacts of oil and gas development in their communities. He advised the PR pros in the room to use the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, along with Donald Rumsfeld's book, as guidebooks for suppressing dissent.     

A year later, we're learning that the oil industry is taking its aggressive military-style approach global. According to a press release published by Food and Water Europe, the industry is spying on fracking critics in Poland.

“Recent media reports from Poland show that heavy-handed tactics such as spying and undercover operations are being used against groups and individuals who question shale gas development,” explains the release. “Shale gas companies have sent spies to anti-fracking meetings and reported their findings to the highest levels of the Polish government and internal security services, according to reports in a Polish daily newspaper.”

Climate SOS Ends with Shale Gas Outrage, Autumn Begins with Global Frackdown

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Global grassroots activism is heating up alongside a scarily ever-warming climate.

Since the beginning of 2012, we've seen the Arab Spring, the Wisconsin Uprising, the Tar Sands Action, and the ongoing Keystone XL Blockade. In the climate justice movement, some have referred to the recently passed summer as the Climate Summer of Solidarity (SOS).

The SOS closed with an action organized by Protecting Our Waters called Shale Gas Outrage, which took place in the heart of the global fracking boom, Philadelphia, PA, home of the Marcellus Shale basin. Outrage was warranted, given that this year's Shale Gas Insight unfolded in the City of Brotherly Love. Insight was sponsored by Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Range Resources, EOG Resources, Aqua America (who stands to profit off of water as a scarce resource via fracking), and many others.

Speakers at the pre-march rally included the likes of “Gasland” Producer and Director Josh Fox, author and ecologist Sandra Steingraber, environmental journalist and activist Bill McKibben and Food and Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter; former Pittsburgh City Council member and writer of the ordinance that banned fracking in the city, Doug Shields, as well as members of the Pennsylvania community whose livelihoods have been deeply affected at the hands of the shale gas fracking industry. 

Upon the rally's completion, activists zig-zagged up and down Philly's streets, making stops at the Obama for President campaign headquarters and Governor Tom Corbett's campaign headquaters.   

A Pan-European Approach To Banning Unconventional Gas?

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A German member in the European parliament (MEP) is proposing a straightforward way to prevent (or outlaw) exploration and drilling for unconventional gas in the European Union (EU). His plan, bypass national strife and instead build consensus for a European-wide ban.

Jo Leinen, chair of the committee on the environment, public health and food safety, is considered one of the most influential MEP’s. He recently told The Guardian that he wants to work on a new energy quality directive that is expected to focus on penalizing and/or banning the extraction, import and use of fuels which are environmentally destructive – namely unconventional gas and even tar sands oil.

UNFCCC: World leaders face big expectations, weak support

Read time: 2 mins

Half the respondents to an 11-country climate change survey want government action - especially direct investment in alternative energy - but only one quarter of the people believe governments a making the efforts they should.

The Climate Confidence Monitor is a project of the HSBC Climate Project, and this year it surveyed 12,000 people in developing world countries like Brazil, China, India and Mexico, and in wealth leaders like the Canada, France, The U.K. and the U.S. Perhaps embarrassingly, the survey found that residents in the developing world are very ready to make lifestyle changes to defend against climate change, while the majority of people in the richer countries are just not interested.

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