Polish Government and Big Coal kick own goal in Warsaw

by cindy on November 19, 2013

Greenpeace banner on Polish Ministry of Economy.  Photo: 350.org

Greenpeace banner on Polish Ministry of Economy. Photo: 350.org

I’m not sure if the Polish Government really meant this to happen.

In the run-up to the climate talks, they had scurried round and found a bunch of largely fossil fuel and car sponsors to help them out.  Thanks to these sponsors, we’ve all been given coal-coloured bags with a big oil service company logo on it. Such a contrast from Durban where we had lovely cloth bags made from recycled fabric, made by people from villages across South Africa.

But in Warsaw today, he Polish Government and the coal industry must have been so pleased with their idea of setting up the World Coal Association “Coal Summit” at the same time as the climate talks. They even managed to persuade the UN Climate Convention’s Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres to speak at it, much to the fury of the youth, whose invitation she turned down.

But that’s when it all started to unravel.

First up was a press conference early this morning, organised by the European Climate Foundation where top scientists spelt out the  message that if we carry on using coal the way we’re going, we’ve got no hope of staying below 2degC of warming. Unabated coal use cannot continue and its financing and rise needed to be stopped now. They released a paper setting out their detailed scientific arguments for this, signed by a number of the world’s most qualified scientists on the subject.

The "Cough for Coal" lungs in the streets of Warsaw.  Photo" 350.org

The “Cough for Coal” lungs in the streets of Warsaw. Photo” 350.org

Next, out on the Warsaw streets, was the “Cough4Coal” rally outside the coal conference.  They had a rather gruesome-looking, but pretty effective, set of lungs, highlighting the problems that coal presents for the people living around the mines and breathing in the air from the burning of it.

At the same time, Greenpeace activists climbed on top of the Polish Ministry of Economic Affairs and hung a big fat banner down the front of it with the message: “Who Rules Poland? The Coal Industry or the People?”

Things were really not going too well for the coal industry at this stage.  But still, they’d got the UNFCCC’s top honcho.    While some weren’t happy with bits of her messaging, she basically told the coal industry it had to leave most of the world’s coal reserves in the ground. I’d love to have seen their faces as she delivered her speech.

To top it all off, the activists then came into the Polish National Stadium, with a smaller protest (unfortunately the lungs were too big to deploy in the building), where they  proceeded to “kick coal out of the climate talks.”

So thanks to the Polish Government’s plan to highlight its favourite industry in the middle of the climate talks, pretty much the only thing the media focused on today was how bad coal is for the climate, how it wasn’t welcome in the talks, and how it needed to stay in the ground.

Activists had a field day. Everyone had been trying to find a way to really hook the coal message into this meeting, and they were handed it on a platter.

Kicking coal out of the COP.  Photo: 350.org

Kicking coal out of the COP. Photo: 350.org

From scientists, to environmental groups, activists and the head of the UNFCCC, the coal industry got it in the neck from all sides.

Now’s the time to run one of the puns around the fact we’re in the stadium: the Polish Government kicked an absolute cracker of own [coal] goal on this one.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Murray November 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I’m not sure a few Greenpeace banners and some blowup lungs have got the Polish coal industry beat just yet.

Coal set to be Poland’s main energy source until 2060
Last updated on 16 November 2013, 10:26 am

An energy strategy released by the Polish government claims coal is optimal fuel for Poland, but doesn’t take into account environmental cost

- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2013/11/16/coal-set-to-be-polands-main-energy-source-until-2060/#sthash.YZV8OmAg.dpuf

Thomas November 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm

What predictable rubbish from the current holder of the “Resident Troll” shield at HT. He is also the current holder of the “Dumb and Dumber on Stage” trophy at HT for the courage to speak about matters he knows so obviously next to nothing about, yet trying (albeit failing) to sound convincing…..

nigelj November 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

Shame on Poland. A word on climate change scepticism and what its really about. Remember the jocks and nerds at school? Intellectual jealousy, this is what climate scepticism is mostly about.

Science comprises many strange theories that however appear to be perfectly correct, and is thus an easy target to attack. It would be easy to slip back to the dark ages. I would say to the sceptics on these pages be careful what you wish for.

Rob Taylor November 20, 2013 at 10:03 am

It’s just politics by another name Nigel. The scientific theories that are attacked are not the intuitively “strange” ones such as quantum or string theory, but those that challenge the economic / religious power of entrenched elites, e.g. evolution, climate science and epidemiology.

http://householdname.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/04/when-smoking-was-good-for-you.html

nigelj November 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Rob Taylor, absolutely yes the core of the climate scepticism is from entrenched business interests, and like with tobacco its missleading scepticism.

However you also have ridiculous levels of ideological suspicion of the green movement and government regulation, and intellectual jealousy. A perfect storm thats difficult to counter.

Rob Taylor November 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Nigel, recent research shows it pretty much all comes from the same source:

Ever heard the one about climate scientists being a bunch of rent-seekers just out to chase taxpayers money, or the one where climate change scientists are just part of an elite left-wing conspiracy out to trample on the heretics?
How about your nearest conservative columnist telling you that “green is the new red” or how climate science and environmentalism has become a new religion?

Where do these rhetorical tricks and debating points actually come from? How does the echo chamber work?

In Australia, a new study has found these themes often don’t spring forth from the minds of insightful and thoughtful newspaper columnists and bloggers.

Rather, many have emerged from the free-market think-tankery of Australia’s The Institute of Public Affairs, which has been muddying the waters of climate science for more than 20 years.

Published in the international peer-reviewed journal Journalism Studies, the author, Sydney University of Technology PhD candidate Elaine McKewon, reveals how popular rhetorical “fantasy themes” which aim to create controversy around climate science are conceived at the IPA before being repeated, magnified, endorsed and legitimised in the opinion pages of Australian newspapers.

http://www.desmogblog.com/study-tracks-australian-climate-denial-echo-chamber-back-think-tank

Clearly, the wealthy pollutocrats who fund the IPA understand that a mass uptake of “greenie” ideas will directly threaten their power and profits.

Gareth November 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm

There’s a fair bit of work on this. One recent paper is summarised at The Guardian here.

A new investigation led by Stuart Bryce Capstick at Cardiff University is the latest attempt to bring some clarity to the debate. Drawing on both survey data and focus groups with members of the UK public, the study suggests that scepticism can be divided into two categories: ‘epistemic scepticism’ (where people doubt the reality or causes or climate change) and ‘response scepticism’ (where people dispute the efficacy of acting to tackle the problem).

nigelj November 21, 2013 at 8:38 am

Rob Taylor I agree. The global source of some of that the doubt is also the heartland institute, and a book to read is called Merchants of Doubt that documents the history of the key people involved in climate scepticism and their links to industry and various ideologically driven think tanks.

Gareth mentions some types of understandable concern about how to fix the problem. This reflects personal fears about costs, but its also a fear of the unknown but most reasearch shows reducing co2 costs less than people think.

Murray November 20, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Another big category would be people who think climate change is occurring like it has for millennia, yet has also been influenced to a far lesser extent by human activity. The view of this category is that the trillions of dollars required to be spent to reduce emissions ( with not guarantee it will have any effect on the climate), would be better spent on adaption if and when required. The view of this category is that there are far to many egos, careers and political agendas involved in this issue to take any of it too seriously. These people know the sun will keeping rising in the morning and life will go on, for them and their grandchildren.

Thomas November 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Murray, the ‘small’ matter of your category is that it is completely ignoring the fact that the oceans (acidification + warming) and a large number of the worlds species do not have the luxury that the top few % of the wealthy nations have to enable some sort of ‘gated community living’ in the face of the very adverse conditions that await us beyond the second half of the century and into the hundreds if not thousands of years to come. You yourself may well find yourself excluded from the rich ‘adapters’ in their walled-off enclaves of 2100.

The paleontological record is clear: Significant events in Earth’s climate record have created multi-million year gaps of ecosystem productivity and sometimes a whole new epoch of life on Earth is started with significant and disruptive events such as significant temperature excursions or ocean chemistry changes.

We are currently on the path to release the vast majority of humanities once-in-a-planet endowment of fossil chemical energy in form of CO2 in the blink of an eye into the environment and life cycles of the planet with no concept in the mind of way to many little Murrays out there of the consequences this will have.

You are nothing but an ill informed ignoramus Murray, with nobody to rely on but dubious propaganda websites such as WUWT and your inner compass, which is totally out of alignment with reality. Really, I feel sorry for you in a way.

Tony November 21, 2013 at 8:09 am

Just because we are releasing carbon into the atmosphere 2-3 hundred times faster than any other time in earth’s history, what could possibly go wrong?

The Arctic is melting so fast that scientists can’t even keep up, constantly having to rewrite their projections. Ditto Greenland.

Earth during the PETM went belly up in just 10 years according to latest research.

Perhaps Murray is right, maybe we should confront these problems by turning a blind eye to them. Brilliant in its simplicity.

eltoro November 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Murray,
“These people know the sun will keep rising in the morning —” (true), “and life will go on, for them and their grandchildren.” Yeah, right.
What planet do you come from Murray. Obviously not planet earth.
Thomas beat me to it but I concur with his opinion of your total ignorance of the science and real life manifestation of climate change as it is today.
How will `Life go on` for tens of thousands of Philipinoes and literally millions of other planet earth residence affected by `one in ten, one in fifty, one in a hundred, one in a thousand year` record setting extreme events that have occurred in the last couple of decades and continue to occur in ever increasing regularity and intensity in parallel with the steady rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. ??????????????
Funny that, ah. NOT.
If you have children, and grandchildren Murray (if you do congratulations but I seriously hope they don`t carry your gene), apologize while you can for your manifest ignorance of reality.

nigelj November 21, 2013 at 8:03 am

Murray Its true climate has changed in the past due to changes in solar irradiance, so some people assume its being caused by natural causes now. The problem is natural causes dont explain the current warming period. Solar irradiance is showing a slight cooling trend over the last 40 years so is not a viable explanation.

However increasing temperatures correlate roughly with increasing carbon dioxide so you have have causation and correlation enough to say we are 95% sure.

Regarding adaptation this is not the preferred option. Where is your evidence that adaptation will cost less than prevention? Do you have any published research you can cite?

In most fields of human concern we are told prevention is the more economic option, like medicine or social or criminal issues. It may well be that climate is similar as the laws underlying reality are basically the same for all phenomena.

Murray November 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm

The UN seems to think humans will be doing just fine in 2050, 9.6 billion of us by then!
I suggest moving to Dunedin if you are that worried and let the rest of us get on with advancing our civilisation. If all you alarmists buy up all the land down there you will make a fortune if you are right and we all want to move South. Jokes on us then right? Why bother the rest of us with your minority views. If the greens win the general election, then you will have every right to shut the economy down to reduce carbon emissions, till then you should respect democracy.

://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45165

bill November 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm

And the lemmings? How will they be doing?

Thomas November 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Oh and the rats? I heard they leave sinking ships early… (wise move!)

However the Murrayalis Generis (or “Common Murray”, frequently found in pockets around Bible Belts and other less than natural environments) has the tendency to deny the sinking of any ship they have been found on, until its too late. Sharks however, tend to prosper at times of Murraylis Generis infected vessels setting out to sea… Oh the food web! I could look at Darwinian playgrounds all day…

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