Decarbonisation or Destabilisation? Trust gap widens as time narrows at COP24 (Comment)

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“Since I last addressed the COP in 2009, Ive been deposed in a coup, thrown into jail, and forced into exile. But almost 10 years since I was last at these climate negotiations, I must say, nothing much seems to have changed,” said Mohammad Nasheed, former President of the Maldives, adding: “We are still using the same old, dinosaur language.” He is now back again to for the negotiations at COP24 and started exploring more effective, urgent and enhanced ambitious targets.

Nsheed’s statements, in short, summed up where the climate change negotiations are going at COP24 – with just a day to go to conclude the talk.

Nasheed was just short of repeating what Einstein famously said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Even the usual optimism in such meetings had familiar and archaic language: “Window of opportunity to keep temperature rise below 1.5 C, as revealed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is closing fast. But we still have time and we can do it”. That was the official tone of the conference.

But unofficial tone was of talk, talk and more talk.

A special report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did energise the negotiations by adding the edge to the demands of the developing countries for developed countries to move fast on their own commitment for reducing GHG emissions and fulfilling the promise of financial assistance to the developing countries. But Nasheed wondered if the developing countries should now change the narrative of their demands and instead push the developed countries to enhance their own investments in the clean renewable energy so that technology improves and the prices come down. That, as per Nasheed, would benefit the developing countries more than just asking for new and additional finances.

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But even there, the developed countries are unwilling to budge. The huge wolf in the herd of the sheep was Poland itself. A day after delivering the inaugural speech at COP24, Polish President Andrzej Duda made a surprise address to coal miners in the country’s south, during their annual festival. He said that as long as he is in office, he “won’t allow for anyone to murder Polish mining”.

Duda contended that under the garb of global warming, one cannot neglect the welfare of the coal miners and ignore their needs. Poland needs coal and it would continue mining it for the sustainable development of its people, was his narrative. That must have been a shock to EU delegation to which coal king Poland belongs. EU has often been very proactive in raising the ambitions for reducing the emissions in line with the IPCC 1.5C report.

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One of the Polish students in the conference stated that coal miners in reality can have a better quality life if they start working on the clean energy. Poland is quite skilled in making turbines for windmills and even exports them. But it does not invest in windmills in the country. “In reality, not