CAN Intervention at COP 19 Opening Plenary, by Wael Hmaidan, 11 November, 2013

Thank you Chair,

Distinguished Delegates,

My name is Wael Hmaidan and I am the international director of Climate Action Network.

54 days ago, 28 peaceful protesters from a CAN Member organization, and 2 journalists, the Arctic 30, were detained at gunpoint in international waters.

For protesting against an oil platform, they have been charged with the “crimes” of piracy and hooliganism. But the real crime here is the relentless pursuit of fossil fuels by dirty industry and the impacts this is having on our planet. Arctic oil platforms represent nothing less than our collective failure. It is only possible to drill for this oil because the ice is melting. More oil means more melting, which means even more oil is accessible and the vicious circle continues. A circle, which you, distinguished delegates at COP 19, have the power to break.  You can either be the first generation of leaders to meet the challenge of climate change. Or you can be the last not to, condemning our children to live in an ever more dangerous world. 

Tomasz Dziemianczuk from Poland is one of the Arctic 30. From his prison cell he has sent a letter that contains a message to all of us. He writes: “Nowadays, environmental protection demands more courageous actions … In order to protect what is valuable for us, we have to undertake further actions.” What further actions are you willing to take? Will you commit additional emission cuts and climate finance, for example? Do not let Tomasz down in his home country.

Thank you.