Warsaw iconic building is stage for call to free activists as COP19 fails to respond to climate emergency

Press release - 21 November, 2013
Warsaw, 21 November 2013 – Activists today protested at the iconic Palace of Culture and Science in central Warsaw to demand immediate climate action and to free the climate defenders, known as the Arctic 30. Warsaw is currently hosting the annual UN climate negotiations, which are not delivering the urgent action people and planet need.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International said:
"Typhoon Haiyan reminded the world that we must act without delay, but the governments of countries like Australia, Japan, Poland and Canada are serving their oil, nuke and coal lobbies while condemning many more around the world to suffering. The climate talks are held hostage by these lobbies while brave climate defenders like the Arctic 30 still face several years in jail for taking peaceful action to protect the Arctic from climate change."

A large banner was hung on the side of the Palace facing the National Stadium, where the COP19 talks are being held, which read: "Save the Arctic – Free our Activists".

The protest comes at a moment when the negotiations are at a deadlock. The financing needed for loss and damage, adaptation to the climate impacts and the transition towards renewable energies are not provided by rich countries. Most recently, Australia and Japan stepped back from their previous commitments. Poland and some major emerging economies are blocking a strict timetable for ambitious targets in 2014.

The world's largest emitter China has not been ready to translate its domestic policy progress into constructive engagements here in Warsaw.

"This process is sorely lacking in leadership on all sides. China and the EU, if anyone, have potential to be a game-changer in these talks, but they are not capitalizing their potential."

"If governments can't even agree on a strict timetable for increasing climate ambition and making 2014 a year of increased mitigation and financing commitments, you will see more acts of civil disobedience by ordinary citizens who are frustrated by policy leaders who simply act as puppets of their fossil fuel industries. The movement against coal and oil interests needs the courageous mobilization of people who can act as bravely as the Arctic 30 did," added Naidoo.

Maciej Muskat, Director of Greenpeace Poland said:
"Prime Minister Donald Tusk should have kick started a just renewable energy transition, but he instead chose to serve the interests of the fossil industry, not the Polish people. This was again highlighted in his decision yesterday to change the Minister of Environment in the middle of the COP for a new servant loyal to pushing the exploration of CO2 emitting shale gas in Poland."

Yesterday French Minister of Development, Pascal Canfin, said he expects a commitment from Parties to put their targets on the table in Paris 2015 at the latest.

Karine Gavand in charge of public affairs at Greenpeace France said:
"As the future President of COP21, France should appeal to countries to put their targets on the table ahead of the 2014 Ban Ki Moon Summit to avoid failure. They must do their homework by pushing an ambitious EU package with three binding targets for the March 2014 Summit."

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Contacts:
Martin Kaiser, Head of Greenpeace Delegation
Mobile: (PL) +48 518 785 814 (DE) +49 171 8780817
Email: martin.kaiser@greenpeace.org

Maciej Muskat, Director of Greenpeace Poland
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Tina Loeffelbein, Head of Media Relations COP19
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