Involvement by the fossil fuel industry as a sponsor and advertiser earned the 2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference the label of “dirtiest conference on record” from the chairperson of Friends of the Earth International.
The 2013 UNFCCC saw 800 activists abandon ship in the middle of the event. Such a walkout has not been seen since the 1995 Berlin United Nations Frameworkk Convention on Climate Change, according to The Irish Times.
Katrina Knauer, USM Graduate Student in Polymer Science and Engineering, does not believe that the involvement of the industry with climate change conferences is bad. Knauer does find fault in that talks held by the indusrty “typically tend to be focused on the idea of ‘clean coal’.” An idea Knauer asserts as an impossibility, stating “the fact of the matter is that coal will never be clean . . . it still pollutes the air, affects the climate, and is not a renewable resource.”
At a consecutive Coal & Climate Summit in Warsaw, head of the U.N. Climate talks, Christiana Figueres, served controversially as one of the key note speakers. An article found on the website for the organization Responding to Climate Change, identified the points laid out by Figueres: that the coal industry “close all the most inefficient coal plants, implement carbon capture and storage (CCS) on all new plants, and leave most existing reserves in the ground.”
While debate continues on all of the various ways to make coal less harmful, Katrina Knauer reminds us that renewable energy, not coal should be more prominent in these conferences.