Hundreds of campaign groups walk out of the Warsaw climate negotiations

Lindsey Horne


Opening statement by the President of COP19 Mr. Marcin Korolec (UNclimatechange/flickr)
Opening statement by the President of COP19 Mr. Marcin Korolec (UNclimatechange/flickr)
Groups including Oxfam International, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF,, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace International left the Polish Capital on Thursday in protest over slow speed and lack of and lack of ambition. With signs of 'Polluters Talk, We Walk #CoP19' and t-shirts reading 'Volverermos' (We Will Return), the groups returned their registration badges and left the negotiations more than a day before they were scheduled to conclude. 

Frustration has built up over the last 10 days due, with developed countries having reneged on their commitments to cut emissions and the potential closeness of governments to industrial lobbyists. 

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said, “The stakes are too high to allow governments to make a mockery of these talks. Climate change means [...] people losing their lives, homes and livelihoods in floods and typhoons. It means people going hungry because crops have failed and food prices have sky rocketed. This is happening today - without action there will be worse to come tomorrow."

Representatives of developing countries, including China and the Philippines, also made their frsutration known as they walked out of the critical 'Loss and Damage' negotiation. The walkout was led by Bolivian negotiator and representative of the G77+China group, Juan Hoffmaister. His opposition stemmed from the perspective that developed nations like Australia and Norway were unwilling to discuss a mechanism for compensating poor nations for loss and damage due to climate change impacts. 

Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development observed, “The negotiations were actually going on reasonably well […] It went on into the night, well into the early morning, discussing things in what I think was a spirit of cooperation.

“But then at the end, the Australian delegation just put brackets around everything. All that negotiation went to waste.”

Samantha  Smith, leader of WWF's global climate and energy initiative, was similarly pessimistic about the process. "Talks like these amount to nothing if countries refuse to come to them and negotiate in good faith or worse, try to drag the process backwards. There comes a point where the only option is to say enough is enough and to leave.” 




Original Press Release Published November 21, 2013

Organisations and social movements involved with this statement: 

Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, ActionAid, Bolivian Platform on Climate, Change, Construyendo Puentes (Latin America), Friends of the Earth (Europe), Greenpeace, Ibon International, International Trade Union, Confederation, LDC Watch, Oxfam International, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change (Philippines), WWF

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