While Poland’s propaganda has been largely mocked, in the negotiation room more serious manipulations from the side of the polluters have taken place. Towards the end of the first week at COP24, countries including the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia refused to “welcome” October’s ground-breaking IPCC report calling for urgent action on climate change, instead agreeing only to “note” the findings. A compromise on the language was finally agreed between the countries to “(welcome) the effort of the IPCC experts” as the US refused to agree to any wording which would imply that they "endorse" the report. The ridiculousness of countries ignoring the report they themselves commissioned just three years ago in Paris has not gone unnoticed and has sparked outrage among many, particularly since the US and Saudi Arabia both supported the report upon its release in October and seem to have turned their back on it once realising the impact it could have on their fossil fuel industries.
Unsurprisingly, this was not the last heard from the US at COP24 as, in a repeat of COP23’s side event promoting coal, this year’s US pavilion hosted a panel on “green” fossil fuels. Thankfully, the talk seemed to have little real impact other than providing (metaphorical) fuel for fire as the crowd of journalists and activists repeated chants of “keep it in the ground”, eventually taking over the event and staging a walk-out.
Thankfully, the advertisement of “green” fossil fuels as we’ve seen at COP24 does come off largely as a last-ditch attempt to protect a dying industry. Many countries across the world are moving towards renewable energy sources of their own accord and developing countries don’t want to lock themselves into an economy reliant on fossil fuels – they have felt the consequences of climate change first hand. However, the influence of polluters in politics continues to slow the chances of any real change and climate change is not going to wait for us. It lies in the hands of the powerful countries, governments and people, those responsible for climate change, to clean up the mess that we made and to prevent short-term economic gain sidelining the long-term survival of our planet.