Winning Warsaw: Poland’s Paternalism Hosts UNFCCC Negotiations


At the opening ceremony of the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) as part of the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) in November, Hanna Gronkeiwicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw, introduced a short video produced for the Polish Ministry of the Environment to rally UN delegates to “win the Warsaw opportunity” by making considerable progress on international climate negotiations during the two-week climate summit. The video began with Polish school children asking their teacher for a story about their “other Poland” pen pals. The other Poland is later revealed as thevillage of Poland on Kiritimati Island.

Kiritimati Island is part of The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced KIRR-i-bas), an island nation in thecentral Pacific Ocean, near the Marshall Islands, Fiji and Western Samoa. Made up of 32 low-lying coral atolls and one solitary island, Kiribati is one of the first nations in the world expected to be lost to climate change-induced sea level rise, and it is estimated that Kiribati may be uninhabitable by the 2050s due to salinization. The warming ocean has caused severe coral bleaching, which has reduced the availability of fish, the main source of protein for the Kiribati people. Kiribati, considered a least developed country (LDC), is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it faces a potential loss of up to a third of its GDP by 2050 and forced migration of its population if serious climate change adaptation does not occur. Despite contributing the second fewest emissions of any nation to climate change, Kiribati has been pioneering against the effects of a changing climate without supportive action from large international powers. In an effort to unite the voices of Small Island Developing States on climate change, Kiribati is a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (“AOSIS”), an intergovernmental organization of low-lying coastal and small island countries.

Unfortunately, none of these facts are explained in the video. Instead, Western Poland paternalistically presents the Republic of Kiribati as a “child victim” in the video, thereby normalizing and validating the developed countries’ use of an oppressive savior-complex as a strategy to evade proactive, binding climate change negotiation, reinforcing international climate negotiation dichotomies.

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Live Update

Human Rights: How lessons learnt from the CDM can inform the design of new market mechanisms

Live Update: Both of our research projects (analyzing the Programme of Activities component of the Clean Development Mechanism & the integrated support of forest governance in REDD+)  discussed in relation to each other in the side event Human Rights: How lessons learnt from the CDM can inform the design of new market mechanisms. 

Tuesday: A Day in Review

The last few days have been a whirlwind!

This morning we met up with other students interested in agroforestry. Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Finland, New Zealand and Australia were all represented in this workgroup. I am expecting these morning meetings to be a good setting to brainstorm and update each other on the status of the negotiations around agroforestry. REDD+ was the topic of a few people’s research; however, many were new to the idea of REDD+ and its variations. Since many of us from this meeting are attending similar events, we ran into each other often through out the day. We are meeting up again tomorrow morning to continue discussion.

Rachel and I tried to attend the Coalition for Rainforest Nations Meeting at 1, but were turned away at the door. That said, Beth heard today that the number of open meetings is evidence towards the idea that these negotiations maybe more accessible for observers than previous negotiations.

Climate Displacements: Rights and Responsibilities was next on my schedule. This was an emotional side event to attend. Many shared testimonials about their impending or experience with forced migration. Over and over I’ve heard Annex II countries plead Annex I countries to take responsibility for their role in creating the climate crisis that displaces whole groups of people. Addressing displacement issues under the loss and damages addition (see Caitlin’s post) is not seen as an solution since forced migration is such a large field of concern that demands an alternative approach. The group called for a revision of rights to ensure equity and dignity to the estimated 200 million climate migrants by 2050 (IPCC). 

Evolving Requirements and Solutions for REDD+ Monitoring, with Community Focus and Indigenous Peoples and REDD+ followed. We road the rail system back to the hostel and just were unpacking when our research teams back home called us to Skype in with updates.