Rhetoric and Fossils

Su-Kim M | November 17, 2016.

As true colours become visible in Marrakech, a plethora of Fossils of the Day were awarded to put countries on notice for talking the talk but not walking the walk. Our dishonourees were recognised for domestic actions directly contradicting the statements of commitment and ambition they are making at the conference.

First place went to those accused of green washing, for covering up dirty domestic activities while at COP22. Turkey, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan and Indonesia are named in a long, but not exhaustive, list of countries that have stated their firm commitment to climate action in Marrakech while simultaneously supporting fossil fuel extraction and use back in their own countries.

Japan came in second having been caught saying yes to coal and no to clean energy. Government inaction been criticised by Japanese civil society for its plan to build 48 new coal power projects, as well as the funding of a large coal mine in the Cirebon region of Indonesia. Indonesian locals have fiercely protested the proposed mine over the past two years on public health, water and environmental concerns. Despite the strong opposition to the mine, both the government and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation have continued forward with the project.

Russia took the bronze prize for leaving renewable energy high and dry instead opting to support nuclear power as part of their climate action efforts. Civil society has been critical of Russia for ignoring the health and safety risks related to nuclear power, and the emissions that exist in the uranium enrichment phase. Russia’s support of nuclear power is also diverting necessary funding and resources away from clean renewable technology like wind and solar.

Through the awarding of these Fossils, civil society at COP22 are putting countries on notice and demonstrating that they will be holding countries to account. With one day left of COP22, all eyes will be on the negotiations. Will these countries continue to get away with the disconnect between rhetoric and action? Or will they be called to account by the international community to ensure that the COP22’s goal of being an ‘action COP’ is realised?

Fossil of the Day is awarded by Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of environmental organisations, to the country or countries they deemed to have played a negative role in the negotiations.

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