Environmental groups stage a mass walkout of the U.N. COP19 climate summit, on 21 November 2013, citing immense frustration with the lack of productive action in the climate talks, which have been dogged by a persistent rift between rich and poor countries on the responsibility of paying for climate damages. Photo: Ben Jervey / Grist

By Ben Jervey
21 November 2013

WARSAW, Poland (Grist) – For the first time ever, environmental groups have staged a mass walkout of a U.N. climate summit. Citing immense frustration with the lack of productive action in the COP19 climate talks, which have been dogged by a persistent rift between rich and poor countries on the responsibility of paying for climate damages, hundreds of people from dozens of environmental groups and movements from all corners of the Earth have voluntarily withdrawn from the talks. According to a spokesperson for Oxfam, around 800 civil society members (which is the label applied to all advocate and activist types at these meetings) have walked out. In a joint statement, group leaders offered that “the best use of their time” was to now focus “on mobilizing people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action.”

Participants in the walkout — which included members and organizers from Oxfam, Greenpeace International, 350.org, WWF International, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth Europe, and dozens of other groups large and small from around the world — assembled just after lunchtime outside the main food court in the National Stadium that is hosting the meetings. After statements from the heads of a handful of international orgs, including Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, members of civil society headed for the exits.

“The real hooligans are the CEOs of fossil fuel companies,” Naidoo told the crowd.

In the joint statement, the groups said, “enough is enough,” but insisted that they were not walking away from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process entirely, promising to return for COP20 in Lima, Peru, in 2014. [more]

Warsaw walkout: Big green groups bail on U.N. climate talks 

Environmental activist at the COP19 climate summit walks out, wearing a sign that reads '#cop19 polluters talk, we walk', on 21 November 2013. Photo: Brendan DeMelle / DeSmogBlog

WARSAW, 21 November 2013 (in.com) – Hours after major NGOs walked out of the UN Climate Change conference, India on Thursday said it fully shared the sentiments of the civil society and asked the developed nations to act in combating climate change.

"It is a matter of deep concern to my country that there has been absolutely no progress in any of the issues of interest to developing countries in this Conference of Parties, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said."

Discussions on crucial issues of direct importance to developing countries like Finance, Technology and Loss and Damage have remained deadlocked due to lack of will by developed country Parties," she said in a statement here.

The NGOs staged the walk out at the conference of the representative ministers of the 195 countries at the UN Climate Change Conference here in the Polish capital in the backdrop of some developed countries actually reneging on their commitments or decreasing them.

"I fully share the sentiments of the NGOs and call on developed countries to show their determination to implement commitments and increase their ambition to address the mitigation gap and provide enhanced means of implementation and ensure that the negotiations reach a meaningful conclusion in the Conference of Parties," Natarajan said.

Ambition in the climate change context is the voluntary submission of emission cut targets committed by countries.NGOs from across the world, including India, staged a walk out from the UN Climate Change conference, accusing the developed world of "wasting precious time to save the world".

Sanjay Vashist of the green NGO Climate Action Network South Asia said his group with global civil society movements walked out from Warsaw COP out of frustration from the empty talks to address climate challenges in developing countries where people are dying due to cyclones like Phalin and Hayain and flash floods like in Uttarakhand.

He also accused the developed countries like Australia and Japan and other developed countries of "wasting precious time" to save the World.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said: "The Polish government has done its best to turn these talks into a showcase for the coal industry."

"Along with backsliding by Japan, Australia, and Canada, and the lack of meaningful leadership from other countries, governments here have delivered a slap in the face to those suffering as a result of dangerous climate change," Naidoo said.

"The EU is being shackled by the Polish government and its friends in the coal industry, and must resume leading on the climate agenda if Paris is going to deliver a treaty that matters," the Greenpeace said. [more]

Warsaw: India backs Green groups' walkout from climate talks



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