Eli Ridder | Analysis
The yellow vests continued into their fifth consecutive Saturday of protests in France over government reforms while United Nations climate plan discussions went over into an extra day in Poland, largely due to a standoff over climate liability.
Representing some 100 countries worldwide, key ministers are in Katowice to craft the next steps to the future of the landmark climate Paris Accord, with the majority of the details settled outside of carbon credits.
Wealthier governments look to attack emissions by paying for environmental and carbon-cutting programs in other countries, but it’s a system hard to police, reports say.
In the back drop of the conference, so-called “yellow vest” protestors, who initially protested against a rise in fuel taxes that has since been curbed, are rising up for items such as education reforms.
Instead of the 10,000 in Paris the weekend before, only some 2,000 French showed up, after the government asked the demonstrators halt over the Tuesday attack on the Christmas market in Strasbourg.
Some 35,500 have turned out across the country, a significant drop from previous protests where intensity and violence killed seven people, and some skirmishes occurred on the main avenue of the capital, Champs-Elysées.
In Poland, further negotiation may be kicked to 2019, with some citing poor organization on Warsaw’s part. A primary contention is that wealthy nations are concerned about being legally liable for causing climate change.
Environment Minister Kathrine McKenna told The Associated Press that “we’ve come a long way” on Saturday, noting “really late negotiations” and “shuttle diplomacy all through the night”.
“Now we are coming to the wire,” McKenna said.
It’s a picture of contrast. In France, protestors were successful, at least for 2019, in pushing back against President Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax hike, an increase that Macron once said was critical to fight climate change.
On Dec. 5, just 24 hours after a temporarily six-month suspension, Paris confirmed the first major policy reversal of Macron’s presidency.
The win against climate change-based tax hikes was lauded by U.S. President Donald Trump, considered the only international actor that has not signed on to the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
France will not be the last developed country to experience backlash against climate change reforms, and it will be critical to examine the framework Poland’s COP24 summit puts forward for the future of tackling the issue internationally, both legally and socially.
Image of Katowice from COP24 Twitter.