Interesting developments occurred yesterday within the Polish government. The Polish Environment Minister, Marcin Korolec, is currently serving as COP 19 President because Poland is hosting the conference. However, Korolec was one of seven cabinet members of the Prime Minister who was replaced during a “government reshuffle.” Today at COP, I’ve heard people everywhere talking about this. While Korolec will continue to serve as COP 19 President for the remaining days of the conference, some argue that a change of leadership in the middle of climate negotiations shows a lack of commitment to climate action on behalf of the Polish government (particularly, Prime Minister Donald Tusk). Furthermore, Korolec has been replaced with Maciej Grabowski, a large proponent of fracking, which inspired criticism and protests outside the conference today. Grabowski does not officially take over until November 27, but he said his priority was to exploit natural gas, a fossil fuel that has proved to be contentious in environmental discussions. This event has added to the negative attention surrounding Poland during the conference, considering it won Climate Action Network’s Fossil of the Day award twice during its tenure as host of COP 19.
Because many negotiations are closed to NGO observers (and many side events are not entirely relevant to the CDM), we have spent most of our time visiting national pavilions. . This allowed us to have a more active role during our time at the conference, and we have been privileged to hear such a wide range of perspectives. However, we’re choosing to end our final day by attending an informal contact group negotiation on the CDM. This certainly has helped wrap-up all the differing ideas we’ve heard during our time here. There is notable tension as negotiations come to a close and delegates rush to fulfill their goals. The informal contact group discussing the CDM must reach a conclusion by the end of Thursday, and there is still disagreement regarding possible amendments to the text. Unfortunately, because we are leaving early Friday morning, we may not be here to see the full results of the conference. Regardless, both attending COP 19 and having the opportunity to see Warsaw have been an incredibly rewarding experience.
Tourist Notes: Last night, Maggie, Ben, and I got out of COP quite late so we were searching for a restaurant that was still open. Luckily, we stumbled upon Nowy Świat Street, which is one of the main historic thoroughfares in Warsaw. Even for a late Wednesday night, the street was filled with people and restaurants. We ate at an eclectic restaurant called Frida, which provided an interesting Polish take on Mexican food.