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Posted on on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following is based on THE PENTAGON POST and on a PRESS RELEASE from the UNFCCC Headquarters in Bonn.



Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.


At a time when the world  meets in Warsaw for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, the Polish government has decided to preside as well over a high-level coal industry event on the sidelines of the two-week climate conference.

Companies dealing with coal, oil and gas normally maintain a low profile presence during the UN climate talks but Polish officials say that coal, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Poland’s electricity generation, won’t go away anytime soon and needs to be a key part of the climate debate.


The decision has also invited mixed reactions from the environmentalists who issue increasingly dire alarms that time is running short to head off the most disastrous effects of global warming.


Meanwhile, in a statement The Associated Press, the World Coal Association said the coal summit is meant as a contribution, not an alternative, to the UN talks. It noted that UN climate chief Christiana Figueres will be a keynote speaker at the event.

Hundreds of youth groups from around the world have written to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres asking her to withdraw from the coal summit taking place at the same time as international climate talks.


The Warsaw meet of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has no measurable targets. But observers hope it will at least do some legwork for a much-trumpeted deal, due to be signed in Paris in 2015 for implementation five years later.



UN’s top climate change official tells coal industry it can and must radically change and diversify
(Warsaw, 18 November 2013) – Speaking to the International Coal and Climate
Summit, organized by the Polish government and the World Coal Association,
Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Christiana Figueres said the coal industry can and must radically transform
and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Directly addressing the CEOs of major coal companies she said: “Let me be
clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval
of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But
I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for
everyone’s sake.”

The World Coal Summit is taking place shortly after the release of the
findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
which shows that human-generated climate change is real and accelerating,
and at the same time as the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.

“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,” she told the coal summit.

Ms. Figueres said that in order to make this radical transformation,
further capital expenditure on coal could only go ahead if it is compatible
with the 2 degree Celsius limit. She pointed to the building groundswell of
climate action and climate change-related policies at all levels of
government and society.

“All of this tells me that the coal industry faces a business continuation
risk that you cannot afford to ignore. Like any other industry, you have a
fiduciary responsibility to your workforce and shareholders. And by now it
is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go
ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.”

Ms. Figueres urged the coal industry to honestly assess the financial risks
of business as usual, to anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance
restrictions and diminishing public acceptance and to leverage technology
to reduce emissions immediately across the entire chain of coal output.

She also said that the industry would need to diversity its portfolio
beyond coal, noting that the bottom line for the atmosphere is that most
existing coal reserves will have to stay in the ground.

“Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing
in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to do this
to join them. By diversifying your portfolio beyond coal, you too can
produce clean energy that reduces pollution, enhances public health,
increases energy security, and creates new jobs,” she said.

Ending her speech, she called on the industry to “look past next quarter’s
bottom line and see the next generation’s bottom line.”

The speech by Christiana Figueres to the International Coal and Climate
Summit can be found at:




When we last sent you an email about the Typhoon in the Philippines, we didn’t yet have a picture of what the impacts would look like.


Now we do. It looks like this.


In a reasonable world, Typhoon Haiyan would be the wakeup call that jolts world leaders meeting in Poland for UN climate talks into decisive action. Depressingly, the message isn’t yet getting through, which is why the Filipino delegation, and many allies, have embarked on a fast to underline the immense, immediate needs facing the victims of this storm.


For our part, we’re bringing thousands on thousands of messages of solidarity with Philippines climate leaders from around the world to the halls of the UN climate talks. This is our way of showing intransigent politicians that the world is counting on them to stand with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and take real action.


Our team in Warsaw will deliver the messages alongside the Philippines delegation later this week, and it’s my hope that they’ll be carrying yours when they do. Click here to send a wake up call message on behalf of the Philippines.


Due to the overwhelming destruction of infrastructure and communication systems, the relief effort in the hardest hit places is only just beginning. In addition to sending that message, can you pitch in to support our friends in the Philippines as they recover from this unprecedented storm, if you’re able?


This Thursday, the penultimate day of UN talks, people will be gathering in climate justice for the Philippines vigils across the globe, to send the message we’re standing with the Philippines even if they won’t.


Yeb Sano, the lead Filipino negotiator at the UN Talks, has been fasting for 7 days in a brave protest of the inaction and delay in the face of climate disaster. And his courage is contagious: we’re hearing from people around the world who are fasting with him in solidarity.


The full account of the destruction won’t be known for a while yet, but the message of Typhoon Haiyan already couldn’t be clearer. It doesn’t feel quite right to look for good in moments like these, but there is at least a glimmer of hope that such a tragedy will cut through the fog of politics and reveal the urgency of this crisis.


I fear it will only happen if we push however, and so push we will.


Many thanks,




From IISD Reporting: 

As delegates kicked off the second half of the conference at the Warsaw National Stadium, another conference, deemed “controversial” by many, convened three kilometers away. At the International Coal and Climate Summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres delivered a keynote speech, warning that “the coal industry faces a business continuation risk it can no longer afford to ignore.” Previously, an open letter signed by several NGOs requested Figueres to withdraw from the event, worried that her presence would lend credibility to a conference “that should not be legitimized.” Responding to these concerns, and subsequently gaining a somewhat cautious approval from one NGO representative, Figueres specified in her keynote address that her presence “is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake.”

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