NGOs stage unprecedented walk-out from Warsaw climate conference
Boycott supported by Greenpeace, Oxfam, Action Aid, the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth and the International Trade Union Confederation
Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo (centre back), Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Secretary General Mithika Mwenda (second right) and International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow (second left) walk out of the UN Climate Change Conferencein Warsaw, Poland.
Non-governmental organisations from across the globe, including Irish observers, staged a mass walk-out from the UN’s 19th climate change conference in Warsaw in an expression of frustration over lack of progress.
In a move unprecedented since the annual round of climate talks started in 1995, the boycott was supported by Greenpeace, Oxfam, Action Aid, the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth and the International Trade Union Confederation – all claiming the conference was “on track to deliver virtually nothing”.
Walk the walk
Wearing white T-shirts over their clothes, imprinted with the slogan “Cop19-polluters talk, we walk”, they marched out of Warsaw’s national stadium, where delegate representing more than 190 countries have been locked in late-night negotiations over a draft text.
“Organisations and movements representing people from every corner of the Earth have decided that the best use of our time is to voluntarily withdraw from the Warsaw climate talks. Instead, we are now focusing on mobilising people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action,” they said.
Kate Ruddock, of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said: “The lack of urgency and the outrageous inaction, particularly by the dirty fossil five – Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan and the US – that we witnessed in Warsaw was so monumental that we were left with no other option than walking out of this conference in protest.”
Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, accused the Polish government of having “done its best to turn these talks into a showcase for the coal industry”. There was also “backsliding by Japan, Australia and Canada” while the EU was “shackled” by Poland and “its friends in the coal industry”.
Former Green Party councillor David Healy, representing Oxfam Ireland, said the conference, “touted as an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to make little progress in helping poorer countries, like the Philippines, cope with extreme weather events”.
European climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard expressed frustration with the draft text, suggesting it did not move things forward.
Referring to the commitments made at the 17th climate change conference in Durban in 2011, she said Warsaw must give “a very clear signal that half-way on our way from Durban to Paris we are firmly on track to what we agreed two years ago” .