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Katowice, Poland, 14 December 2018: As the UN climate talks go into their final hours in Katowice, progress on the ‘Paris Rulebook’ and other key decisions, like acknowledging the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 degrees report, has been terrifyingly slow. Negotiations are not on track to pass the tests of science or justice, with obstruction from key fossil fuel-pushing governments.

Sara Shaw, Climate Justice and Energy International Program Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International said:

‘We always knew this was going to be a tough conference, taking place deep in the heartlands of the Polish coal industry, with companies like Shell, Exxon and BP inside the negotiations promoting the myth that we can stop climate change without dismantling the fossil fuel industry. But it is still devastating to see countries like the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait destroy our chances of a safe and liveable planet by blocking progress at every juncture. It has been known for over 50 years that greenhouse gases cause climate change. Yet here we stand on the brink of catastrophe because corporate interests and fossil fuel money have infiltrated the climate talks to perpetuate the dirty energy system regardless of the cost for people and planet. The fact that Shell boasted this week of how it helped to write the Paris Agreement is only more evidence of this reality.’

Governments are likely to finally broker agreement on the Rulebook required to implement the already-weak targets from the Paris Agreement, which was their mandate at this 24th annual Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. This conference comes hot on the heels of the crucial findings of the IPCC 1.5 degrees special report. But while developing countries and vulnerable peoples of the planet desperately need to see finance on the table for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage, and while a scale-up of ambition of emissions cuts is vital, progress has been thwarted at every turn by countries with zero interest in stopping climate change and every interest in propping up the murderous fossil fuel industry. Yet again we have seen the crucial principle that developed countries have a historical responsibility do more and to pay their climate debt to the South undermined.

Sara Shaw continued:

‘Rich countries are bullying developing countries into accepting rules that don’t benefit them – setting up an impossible choice between finance for the much-needed transition and basic survival. The rules that look to be adopted would not provide a pathway to a future below 1.5 degrees, and risk locking the world into decades of inaction.’

Meanwhile, as fossil fuel companies enjoyed extraordinary levels of access to the climate talks, civil society has been forced to the margins of negotiations, and many activists were detained, deported and refused entry to Poland. Activists who marched for climate justice on the streets of Katowice were surrounded by vast numbers of heavily armed police, armored vehicles and tear gas launchers.

Rita Uwaka of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria said:

‘Just at the very moment we need the most serious climate action, we are seeing the rise of right-wing authoritarian and climate-denying regimes – in the US, in Brazil, in Poland, in the Philippines, and elsewhere. This is a blow for democracy, for climate justice, for the safety of activists and ordinary people in many countries. We are seeing increased support from these regimes for the impunity of big polluters. But people are rising up and mobilizing, despite the grave risks in some places. Civil society is making a stand here in Poland. And we will continue the important work we do back home, challenging the polluters, building our movements with frontline communities hit hardest by climate change and dirty energy, challenging patriarchy, to create a just and sustainable world.’


Notes for editors


People Power Now! An Energy Manifesto (2018) 

Decade Zero: Demanding rapid and bold action to address the root causes of climate change (2016)


Friends of the Earth International spokespeople from Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America will be available to reflect on conference in Poland, including:

  • Dipti Bhatnagar (Mozambique) – International program coordinator for Climate Justice and Energy at Friends of the Earth International
  • Sara Shaw (UK) – International program coordinator for Climate Justice and Energy at Friends of the Earth International


For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Fiona Broom

Sara Shaw, Climate Justice and Energy Program Coordinator
+44 7974 008270[at]

Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator, Friends of the Earth International
+258 840356599


Twitter: Follow @FoEint using the hashtags #COP24 and #ClimateJustice