Civil Society Rises up as Big Polluters block progress at UN Climate Talks
As the UN climate talks enter their final hours in Katowice, Poland, hundreds of people have taken part in a mass sit down protest inside the conference venue to demand that countries act urgently to avoid total climate breakdown. 
Civil society is protesting the failure so far of COP24 to respond to the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on 1.5 degrees and to improve drafts of the ‘Paris Rulebook’ that currently look set to undermine core principles of justice and equity.
Most countries want the science in the IPCC 1.5 degrees report to play a role in ratcheting up ambition in national pledges to cut emissions, but the US has joined forces with other big fossil fuel interests including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait to block this. 
The Trump administration, despite being in the process of pulling out of the Paris Agreement, has also undertaken a concerted drive to negatively influence the talks and erode a fair approach to implementing the Paris Agreement that would see big historical polluters do their fair share in response to the climate crisis.
Mary Church Friends of the Earth Scotland said:
“Despite the IPCC’s stark warning that we have only a decade to avert the truly catastrophic impacts of more than 1.5 degrees warming, big polluters are deliberately ignoring the science in these talks, putting us on a path to a future of climate chaos.
“The US and other countries with big fossil fuel interests have blocked progress at every step of the way in this process, massively jeopardising our chances of ensuring a safe and liveable planet. The influence of corporate interests is written all over this, with Shell, BP and Exxon inside the negotiations promoting the myth that we can stop climate change without dismantling the fossil fuel industry, and boasting about how they helped write the Paris Agreement. 
“Only by ending our reliance on fossil fuels in the next decade, with a Just Transition for workers and communities, will we find our way out of this crisis. The clamour for deep, systemic change is growing in people’s movements around the world. The civil society action at COP24 today, the emergence of movements such as the gilets jaunes in France and Extinction Rebellion in the UK is merely the tip of the iceberg.”
The Paris Agreement is structured around voluntary national pledges from countries to reduce their emissions, including the provision of finance from developed countries to developing countries to support mitigation and adaptation efforts, in recognition of historical responsibility for the crisis.
The Scottish Government has committed to new climate change legislation in response to the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. However, the draft bill currently before Parliament delivers barely any new action within the next 12 years, and fails to set a date for zero emissions. Meanwhile, the SNP continue to support expansion of oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea. 
“Despite the unprecedented warnings on the need for urgent action, the Scottish Government has chosen to commit almost no additional emissions reductions between now and 2030, keeping us on the same path set nearly 10 years ago. Since then, the world has reached over 1°C of global warming and millions of people are dealing with the devastating consequences. Our understanding of the science has changed, so too must Scotland’s ambition.
“The First Minister has said that Scotland is ‘determined to lead by example’ in delivering the Paris Agreement. Yet the new Bill fails to deliver the urgent action needed, and it fails to set an end date for Scotland’s contribution to climate change. As a wealthy, developed nation with major historical responsibility for causing this problem, Scotland has a responsibility to act faster and do our fair share.
“The SNP cannot continue to ride both horses when it comes to climate change and energy policy. The world cannot afford to burn most of the fossil fuels we already have, never mind going after the extraction of billions more barrels. Instead of supporting tax breaks for big oil and gas companies, and encouraging new exploration, the Scottish and UK Governments should be planning an orderly and just transition away from fossil fuels. This must involve the workers and communities who are currently dependent on the oil and gas industry in developing a new, fairer zero-carbon economy.”
The talks are scheduled to close today, but anticipated to run into the early hours of Saturday.
Notes to Editors
Friends of the Earth Scotland Campaigners are at the climate talks in Katowice and are available for interview
Pictures are available (on the final page) at http://www.flickr.com/photos/foei/albums/72157698544232900
‘US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge’ 9 December
‘Shell Oil Executive Boasts that his company influenced the Paris Agreement’ 8 December
‘Fury at SNP Climate Hypocrisy’ 5 December https://foe.scot/press-release/snp-climate-hypocrisy/