Leading global environment and civil society groups have dramatically walked out of the United Nations COP19 climate change talks in Warsaw in an unprecedented move in UNFCCC conference history.
The talks in Warsaw have been dogged by uncertainty and a lack of progress, with campaign groups complaining daily of blocking tactics and buck-passing by many governments.
Groups including Greenpeace International, WWF, Oxfam International, ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth Europe and the International Trade Union Confederation joined the walkout.
Losing patience with the Warsaw talks, the groups accused governments of putting the interests of the “dirty energy lobby” first and of failing to address a global “climate crisis”.
In a statement, the groups said: “enough is enough” but some stressed they were not walking away from the UNFCCC process entirely, promising to return for the talks in Lima, Peru, in 2014.
The statement said: “The Warsaw Climate Conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing. “In fact, the actions of many rich countries here in Warsaw are directly undermining the UNFCCC itself, which is an important multilateral process that must succeed if we are to fix the global climate crisis.”
The groups were preparing to speak to media and delegates inside Poland’s National Stadium before collectively walking out, handing in their official UNFCC badges.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: “Oxfam is walking out of these talks because governments need to know enough is enough. People around the globe have a right to know about the desperate state of these negotiations.
“The stakes are too high to allow governments to make a mockery of these talks. Climate change means real and harmful impacts on people right around the globe. “It 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.
“Government’s primary responsibility is the security of their people. They are failing in this responsibility. They must draw a line under the Warsaw talks and come back in 2014 ready for meaningful discussions on how they will deliver their share of the emissions reductions which scientists say are needed and their share of the money needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt.”
“We must demand action together – without this pressure our governments will simply not deliver what is needed.”
Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy initiative, said: “We have been forced to take this action because of the failure of governments to take these talks seriously.
“We are not walking away from the UN process on climate change, just this conference in Warsaw, where the interests of the most polluting industries have been set above the needs of global citizens.
“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. With the science clearer than ever on the risk posed by dangerous climate change, heads of state need to step in and show leadership and drive this process forward.”
Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, addressing the media about the walkout. Photo credit: Brendan DeMelle, DeSmogBlog
This story was originally published at DeSmogBlog. Reproduced with permission.