Coaland and the Colossal Fossil

A true consensus government, the COP leaves the most progressive at the mercy of the most obstinate. In this system, science deniers and climate activists battle it out, yielding ground, gaining concessions, and, often, feeling like they’ve gotten nowhere. As the world burns and our chances to halt the irreversible slip through our fingers, every small victory reminds us that winning slowly is still losing. So what do you do when a coal-loving country holds the gavel? Can observers only wring their hands as an understaffed Polish Presidency sets regressive agendas and embraces corporate polluters?

The answer, of course, is to mock them.

A hero of satire has emerged to hold the worst members of the COP accountable: Climate Action Network and their “Fossil of the Day” awards.

Each day of negotiations, CAN has chosen a deserving winner. Those who, through obstinacy, ignorance, or plain greed, continue to obstruct global climate action, all earn a place on the podium.

The list of daily finalists includes:

A Polish victory has been brewing all COP. President Andrzej Duda opened his remarks by stating: “There is no plan to fully give up on coal. Experts point out that our supplies run for another 200 years, and it would be hard not to use them.” They’ve followed this up by cozying up to large polluters, filling the venue with single-use plastics, and holding events advertising “clean coal.”

However, most disturbing has been Poland’s battle against climate activism at the COP. At least twelve members of civil society groups and one COP Party delegate were turned away at the Polish border, including CAN Europe’s Zanna Vanrenterghem.

These activities appear to be the product of a new law banning unplanned protesters from Katowice, the COP venue. This barrier to a free and involved public directly belies Poland’s professed commitment “to providing access to information, access to participation, and remedy on environmental matters.” This has had a chilling effect on participants. Coupled with an unambitious conference agenda, the activities of the Polish government have cast a pall over the proceedings that match the one in the air.

Zero carbon Saudia Arabia?

KSA princeSaudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the Kingdom has begun planning for the end of oil.


By developing the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, partially financed by selling shares of Saudi Aramco, the leading global oil producing company.

This sale of shares to private investors via an initial public offering (IPO) could begin in 2017. “IPOing Aramco and transferring its shares to PIF (the existing, relatively small KSA sovereign wealth fund) will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,” said the KSA prince.  The eventual goal is to be big enough to buy some of the world’s largest players in the financial and industrial sectors.  It is estimated that the new sovereign wealth fund would be able to buy Apple, Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft, and Berkshire Hathaway – the world’s four largest publicly traded companies. With the fund estimated to be worth $2 trillion down the road (eclipsing those in Norway and Abu Dhabi), KSA predicts that “within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”

Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace UK, sees KSA’s new strategy as a key post-Paris moment. “The image of Saudi Arabia is so inextricably linked to the oil age that this feels a bit like Switzerland quitting the banking sector. The fact that they’re trying to decouple the country’s wealth from oil revenues will be seen by many as yet another sign that the end of the oil age is approaching fast. If the oil titans are looking for an exit strategy, all cannot be well in the fossil fuel sector.”