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article imageHost of COP24 conference wins shameful Fossil of the Day Award

By Karen Graham     Dec 4, 2018 in World
Katowice - The COP24 global climate conference in Katowice, in the heart of Poland's coal country, got off to an inauspicious start on Sunday. For whatever reason, the Polish government decked the halls of its exhibition center with piles of coal.
Katowice is a city in Silesia, a region of Poland that is home to about 90,000 coal workers - around half of all the coal workers in the EU. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki acknowledgeas that coal is very important to the Polish economy, referring to it as "our black gold."
Coal provides about 80 percent of Poland's electricity, compared to an average of 30 percent among International Energy Agency member countries. And even though coal is responsible for about half of global CO2 emissions worldwide, Poland, along with other coal-dependent countries is grappling with trying to adapt to cutting emissions.
However, Polish representatives have been completely quiet on one of the key objectives of COP24 - reducing the use of fossil fuels, and a collective decision to revise and increase all climate pledges by 2020. Perhaps more importantly, they have also failed to state their support for the need to increase the EU’s climate targets, undermining the EU’s leadership role in the negotiations.
On the opening day of the conference, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that there was "no contradiction between burning coal and climate protection and that Poland had no intention to phase out coal," claiming incorrectly that it has 200 years of coal reserves, according to a UN Climate Action report.
Coal and more coal plus a shameful award
On Tuesday November 27, the Polish environmental minister announced that the state-owned coal company along with energy companies PGE and Tauron—both of which lean heavily on coal to produce power—would be partners with the conference.
To make their point that coal is vital to society, coal, lots of coal is to be found inside the Polish exhibition hall, including a band made up of coal miners who greeting conference-goers as they come inside from the outside air, thick with coal-fired power plant haze.
Conference goers were taken by surprise by the display of coal, including coal soap (it’s clean coal, get it?) - and have tweeted pictures and videos of the display of "black gold."
On Tuesday, Poland won the shameful Fossil of the Day Award from Climate Action Network International. The dubious award was handed down to Poland for promoting coal interests and turning a blind eye to the need to ramp up climate pledges by 2020.
COP24 Fossil of the Day award goes to Poland.
COP24 Fossil of the Day award goes to Poland.
Fossil of the Day Awards
While Poland says it is trying to turn away from coal, it's not happening fast enough for many people. "The government targets are not in line with the Paris Agreement," Client Earth's Ilona Jędrasik told CNN. "To have so much electricity still come from coal by 2040 is impossible from an economic point of view. By then renewables will be way cheaper than coal -- keeping coal at that point makes no sense."
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