Other than this strange feeling in the city, the vibe within the conference itself seems to be suggesting a sort of resentment towards the host country and it's decisions surrounding this climate conference. As was the case last year in Doha, there began a year in advance a sense of irony that a country which is a major contributor to the global emissions problem would host the UNFCCC, whose goal is to eradicate these practices. The NY Times said in October 2013 that Poland gets 88% of its electricity from coal power plants. Burning fossil fuels like coal is one of the most prominent ways that humans have contributed to altering our atmosphere's composition, which is shown to cause the rapid rate of climate change we are seeing today.
Another controversy within the conference is Poland's choice of corporate sponsors that have historically been advocates of non-renewable energies. Some of these include Alstom Power, who has been built 95% of Poland's coal power plants since 1995, and PGE Polish Energy Group, whose lignite power plant is supposedly the largest source of CO2 emissions in Europe. (These facts taken from desmogblog.com.) Although some of the corporate sponsors appear to be researching and developing "clean" coal and other alternative energy options, it just feels a little ironic. However, as my practical boyfriend pointed out to me, maybe their sponsorship is an advertisement for themselves to show that they are more committed to addressing environmental issues than they have been in the past. I hope that's the case (because we all know there is no such thing as clean coal)! SIDENOTE: My boyfriend also brought up a good point that I have been thinking about. Should these coal power corporate sponsors get some credit for at least researching and developing clean'ER' coal? Perhaps they are not ready to transition completely away from coal, but hey, at least emissions wouldn't be as harmful as they are now. It's a start? Should we give them a little slack for at least beginning to address the problem? They kind of have the right thought process going on there: fossil fuel burning is bad for the environment.
companies, senior policy-makers, business leaders, academics and NGO
representatives to discuss the role of coal in the global economy, in the context of the climate change agenda." When I hear the words "climate change agenda," I hear sarcasm. Maybe that's wrong of me to assume, but it's what a lot of others at the COP are assuming too. If you check out their website, you'll find that this summits mission is to promote "clean coal" in order to address environmental issues. Short-term, sure I can respect trying to get better. However, contrary to the WCA's beliefs, it is not a long term solution. Coal power needs to go.. like yesterday.
What really got the youth organizations angry was that Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and their closest ally in being heard at the negotations, is scheduled to speak at the International Coal and Climate Summit, which they believe will undermine the legitimacy of the UNFCCC process. I highly recommend checking out this article if you'd like to read more about how the youth are addressing Christiana about this issue.