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Polish official defends coal conference amid criticism

[ 13 November 2013 07:35 ]



Baku-APAA high-level conference for the coal industry scheduled in parallel to the annual United Nations climate talks in Warsaw could be "potentially interesting for developing countries," Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec said here on Tuesday amid rising criticism over the country's "hijacking" global climate negotiations, APA reports quoting AP.

On the second day of the two-week-long 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP19, Korolec hinted that the coal conference could be helpful for other coal-reliant countries in the developing world.

"As far as I know, the conference is dedicated to mobilizing new technologies and research and development," Korolec, who is serving as the president of the COP 19, told Xinhua at a press conference.

Environment groups and civil society organizations, gathering in Warsaw to observe the climate talks, have strongly opposed the coal conference to be held next Monday.

However, Korolec defended that the coal conference would be only in the margin of the COP instead of in the framework of the COP and that the ministry of economy would be its organizer.

"Personally I will not be there for the conference," he added.

But he failed to answer whether the UN's climate chief Christiana Figueres would attend the coal conference. Rumors that Figueres would be a keynote speaker triggered wide concerns among environmentalists.

Poland is known for being an outspoken defender of coal energy. It ranks fifth for carbon dioxide pollution in the European Union (EU), behind Germany, Britain, Italy and France, whose economies are far bigger.

Coal accounts for nearly 90 percent of Poland's electricity generation for its 38 million people. The country has started restructuring its energy mix to boost renewable energies, but coal will remain one of its principal energy sources in the near future.

Also on Tuesday, Greenpeace gave Poland the sarcastic "Fossil of the Day" award for the longest list of reasons that any country has ever earned, the international environment organization said in a statement.

Poland was awarded for continuously opposing the EU from taking more ambitious climate action, for co-hosting the coal conference during COP19, and for inviting polluting companies to sponsor COP19, among others, according to the statement.

Greenpeace argued that Poland was misusing its position as the COP presidency to advance its own coal agenda and that its government was acting as the public relations department of the coal industry.

Major topics of this year's climate talks include the implementation of climate funds from developed countries, the loss and damage mechanism for crisis-hit developing countries, and the groundwork for a new global climate deal to be signed in 2015.