Quantcast
Climate
Cezary P / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Tense Atmosphere: Poland Issues Terrorism Alert for Katowice Ahead of COP24

By Chloe Farand

The Polish government has implemented a terrorism alert in the province where the annual UN climate talks are about to start.

Climate campaigners are warning of a tense atmosphere in and around the city of Katowice in southern Poland, where the global climate negotiations, known as COP24, are due to kick off on Monday.


Katowice, a city of around 300,000 people—and the smallest city to host the UN climate talks yet—is about to welcome nearly 30,000 people for the climate conference, including heads of state, government representatives and UN officials.

Over the weekend, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has signed an order declaring an ALFA alert—the first of four increasing terrorism security levels—across the entire southern province of Silesia, where Katowice is located, and the city of Krakow.

'ALFA' Alert

In a statement, the government confirmed the heightened security measures had been introduced in connection with COP24 and will remain in force for the entire length of the talks, until Dec. 15.

The heightened alert has seen increased controls implemented across the affected areas, with residents are asked to report any suspicious situation or individual.

It also means enhanced security forces will be deployed in cases of emergency and that officers can control and check vehicles as well as access private communications.

The Polish border police also confirmed that Poland's borders with Germany, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had temporarily been restored and that the border could only be crossed in designated areas, with further checks being carried out at ports and airports.

The measures are due to last for the entirety of the climate conference with random checks being carried out for people entering Poland.

Tense Atmosphere

The news comes after DeSmog UK revealed earlier this year that the Polish Parliament approved a bill that banned all spontaneous protests in Katowice during the talks. The ban does not apply to demonstrations organized inside the conference center.

The law provides a raft of initiatives to "ensure safety and public order" and allows police to "collect, obtain, process and use information, including personal data about people registered as participants of the COP24 conference or cooperating with its organisation, without the knowledge and consent of the people involved."

Patryk Bialas, a newly elected independent councillor for Katowice and a long-standing climate activist, told DeSmog UK that the mood in Katowice "was very bad."

Bialas also said that residents in Katowice were already experiencing high levels of security.

"There are already a lot of police on the streets and officers are telling people to keep away of the city center during the talks," Bialas said, adding that police officers recently interrupted a training session about the climate negotiations he had organized with Katowice residents.

"No one is talking about the COP in the public debate. The general knowledge of what this meeting is about is very low in Poland. On the other hand, the government is sending very strong coal-friendly propaganda, presenting the climate summit as another global economic congress," he added.

A March for Climate has been organized in Katowice on Dec. 8 with the permission of the local authorities and it is unclear whether other events could take place in the city center.

"There will be protests during the talks outside the conference center in Katowice but also all around Poland but many Poles are afraid of taking part," Bialas said. "There is a possibility protesters could face prison if they break the ban on spontaneous protest."

Deterrence

The impacts of Poland's crackdown on spontaneous protest and the gathering of all participants' data is having an impact far beyond Katowice.

Sébastien Duyck, a senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, told DeSmog UK that there were "strong tensions" around the law.

UN institutions and civil society groups have been in discussions with the Polish Presidency over the controversial law, but the discussions did not result in any amendments to the text.

Duyck added that the data collection powers granted to the police under the law had led some climate campaigners from developing countries with no democratic institutions not to attend the conference in Katowice, fearing repercussions in their own countries.

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a Thailand-based network of feminists and grassroots climate organizations, described the bill as "setting a dangerous precedent" and one that "undermines human rights and fundamental freedoms."

In a statement, APWLD member Banamallika Choudhury, from India, warned: "This clamp down on civil society space and freedom of expressions is a sign of increasing influence of the profit earning actors who do not want to change the system of exploitation that is leading to climate change.

"By closing spaces for voices of the people to come into global platforms like the COP, the profit-making exploitative industries and the states continue business as usual at the cost of the planet."

Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) is a beloved holiday favorite. PETA

8 Festive Vegan Drinks to Keep You Cozy This Winter

By Zachary Toliver

Looking for warm vegan holiday drinks to help you deal with the short days and cold weather? This time of year, we could all use a steamy cup of cheer during the holiday chaos. Have a festive, cozy winter with these delicious options. (Note that you must be 21 to enjoy some of the recipes.)

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Pexels

For a Happier, Healthier World, Live Modestly

By Marlene Cimons

Gibran Vita makes every effort to get rid of the dispensable. He lives in a small home and wears extra layers indoors to cut his heating bills. He eats and drinks in moderation. He spends his leisure time in "contemplation," volunteering or working on art projects. "I like to think more like a gatherer, that is, 'what do I have?' instead of 'what do I want?'" he said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
An underwater marker in front of Cortada's studio helps predict how many feet of water needs to rise before the area becomes submerged. Xavier Cortada

As Miami Battles Sea-Level Rise, This Artist Makes Waves With His 'Underwater Homeowners Association'

By Patrick Rogers

Miami artist Xavier Cortada lives in a house that stands at six feet above sea level. The Episcopal church down the road is 11 feet above the waterline, and the home of his neighbor, a dentist, has an elevation of 13 feet. If what climate scientists predict about rising sea levels comes true, the Atlantic Ocean could rise two to three feet by the time Cortada pays off his 30-year mortgage. As the polar ice caps melt, the sea is inching ever closer to the land he hopes one day to pass on to the next generation, in the city he has called home since the age of three.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
GMVozd / E+ / Getty Images

How to Ferment Vegetables in Three Easy Steps

By Brian Barth

A mason jar packed with cultured or fermented vegetables at your local urban provisions shop will likely set you back $10 to $15. Given that the time and materials involved are no more than five minutes and $2, respectively, one imagines that the makers of cultured vegetables have spent eight years training with fermentation masters in some stone-age village, or that they've mortgaged their house to pay for high-end fermenting equipment to ensure that the dilly beans come out tasting properly pickled.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Orangutan in Sumatra. Tbachner / Wikimedia Commons

Norway to Ban Deforestation-Linked Palm Oil Biofuels in Historic Vote

The Norwegian parliament voted this week to make Norway the world's first country to bar its biofuel industry from importing deforestation-linked palm oil starting in 2020, The Independent reported.

Environmentalists celebrated the move as a victory for rainforests, the climate and endangered species such as orangutans that have lost their habitats due to palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia. It also sets a major precedent for other nations.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Steve Parish/ Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientists Discover 'Most Diverse Coral Site' on Great Barrier Reef

Australian scientists have found the "most diverse coral site" on the Great Barrier Reef, observing at least 195 different species of corals in space no longer than 500 meters, The Guardian reported.

The non-profit organization Great Barrier Reef Legacy and marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world expert on coral reefs, confirmed the diversity of the site, also known as the "Legacy Super Site" on the outer reef.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Buses head out at the Denver Public Schools Hilltop Terminal Nov. 10, 2017. Andy Cross / The Denver Post via Getty Images

Why Aren't School Buses Electric? These Coloradans Are Sick of Diesel

By Corey Binns

Before her two kids returned to school at the end of last summer, Lorena Osorio stood before the Westminster, Colorado, school board and gave heartfelt testimony about raising her asthmatic son, now a student at the local high school. "My son was only three years old when he first suffered from asthma," she said. Like most kids, he rode a diesel school bus. Some afternoons he arrived home struggling to breathe.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
jessicahyde / iStock / Getty Images

Hemp May Soon Be Federally Legal, But Many Will Be Barred From Growing It

By Dan Nosowitz

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has, perhaps unexpectedly to those who find themselves agreeing with only this one position of his, been a major force for legalizing industrial hemp. Industrial hemp differs from marijuana in that it's bred specifically to have extremely low concentrations of THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana; smoke industrial hemp all you want, it'll just give you sore lungs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!