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Climate change is an opportunity for oil drilling, say hosts of upcoming climate talks (as do its sponsors!)

The Polish government has released a blog claiming melting Arctic sea ice caused by climate change is in fact an opportunity to drill for more oil. As if that wasn't bad enough, it came from the very same Ministry that is about to host this winter's UN climate talks.

On Tuesday a very peculiar blog appeared on the COP19 website: a new post entitled 'Northwest Passage – the Remake'.

The website is normally a portal where the information on COP19 – the upcoming UN climate talks in Warsaw – is shared by the Polish Ministry of Environment, this year's hosts. And the blog in question, entitled 'I Care', is supposed to be a PR platform for the Ministry to show how committed it is in tackling climate change.

Therefore a blog making the case for all the positive benefits that 'Earth's Citizens' could gain from the Arctic sea ice melting was not what was expected. Could it be a sick joke?

While the rest of the world see the melting of the sea ice as a massive disaster, one of the many 'multipliers' that will speed up the onset of higher temperatures and climate chaos, the blog states: 

“We can sail from Asia and America to Europe via a shorter route... We may also build new drilling platforms and retrieve natural resources hidden below the sea bed.”

30 activists from Greenpeace are currently sitting in a Russian jail for trying to stop exactly that activity: stop even more fossil fuels being dug up, and stop one of the most fragile and pristine environments being destroyed (see the campaign to free them).

But the blog then says the melting of the sea ice will help

“chasing pirates, terrorists and ecologists that will come to hang around...”

- pretty clear what the Polish government thinks of Greenpeace's activities.

While 'Earth's Citizens', as we are all referred to, may be dismayed that the host of the UN climate talks is talking about the benefits of worsening climate change – and not referring once to it as a problem – the COP19's 'partners' won't be. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel and mining company and COP19 sponsor, has a licence to mine iron ore in the Canadian arctic, while PNiNG, one of Poland's biggest energy companies and a close collaborator with more of the COP's dirty energy sponsors, Lotos Group and PGE, is also planning on drilling in the arctic. Many energy companies – many of whom have presented themselves as 'green' at previous COPs – are ignoring the environmental warnings from governments in their eagerness to open up the arctic: three of the UK's 'big 6' energy companies have gained exploration licences, while Shell and Gazprom's arctic adventures have been well-highlighted by Greenpeace.

The website has today published a 'rectification', saying it was 'misunderstood', while according to one Polish climate delegate, the governmnet was only trying to be 'provocative'

The forced apology is as telling as the original blog: no mention of climate change – isn't that what the talks are supposed to be about? – and instead talking about how to react to (or see the opporunity in?) what's already happening. They mention the ice melting in the original blog as a positive thing, and now the government claims their positive vision was in fact a 'black case scenario'. But re-reading the original, I couldn't see any mention of blackness and doom.

The Polish Environment Minister, Maric Korolec, has defended the blogpost saying “it only pointed out [a] problem we face,” but the impunity of writing – and defending – such statements is what is mind-blowing. No apology.

The Polish government has made it clear: saving the climate is not what the upcoming UN negotiations is going to be about, but rather a chance to explore what opportunities there are for dirty industry. This COP is set to be a corporate onslaught if 'Earth's Citizens' don't stand up to the Polish government and its vested interests.

UPDATE: Within hours of the blog being originally published, the Polish government took down both the original blog post and the rectification, instead put the following message:


This story is part of our blog Corporate COP19. Read all the other stories here.
For comprehensive background information, check out the COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying.
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The slogan of this year's climate talks is “black to green” -  appropriate, given the dirty energy companies that are bankrolling the conference. While the sponsors hide behind green branding, their core business models depend on coal, oil and gas, and are therefore absolutely incompatible with the Paris Agreement, let alone a planet still habitable in the future.

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