COP24 In Large Part An Expensive Taxpayer Funded Junket For Third World Delegates
By Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt and Dr. Sebastian Lüning
(German text translated/edited by P. Gosselin)
The climate conference in Katowice is in full swing and a variety of carbon-saving initiatives are being discussed: eating less meat, less heating and less air travel. In the latter case, of course, the conference itself is taking on great proportions of absurdity.
It would have been easy to turn the conference into an internet meeting with live streaming and online commenting. But then the long wonderful “business trip” with all its receptions, daily allowances and pre-Christmas meetings with fellow climate rescuers would have been missed. This time more than 22,000 participants have made their way to Poland, most comfortably by plane. The largest delegations to the Climate Conference came from Africa.
Guinea is sending 406 delegates this year, the Democratic Republic of Congo is there with 237 participants, and the Ivory Coast is sending 191 compatriots to Poland. The list of participants is available on the homepage of the conference as a pdf and is 1084 pages long.
The list of delegates from Guinea starts on page 239 and goes to page 273. There are 406 names on it. In the previous year in Bonn the group from Guinea was even larger, 86 participants more, with a delegation size of close to 500 people.
The Ivory Coast has also “severely restricted” participation this year. At the COP23 in Bonn, the country was present with 492 participants. Maybe Bonn was a more attractive destination than Katowice? Eco-business.com has compiled the numbers of climate conferences in recent years in an Excel spreadsheet, which is available here.
The obvious question: what is supposed to be the task of all these delegates? And who will pay for the travel costs? Let’s start with the first question, the role of the delegates. Here we can really only speculate, since we do not know the individual daily program of the participants. A look at the affiliation of the participants gives a first idea. Among other things, there are several employees of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation from Guinea.
There are also journalists, a large number of NGO employees, representatives of the water authority, etc. It remains unclear who really provides added value here, and who is only traveling as a tourist or on a daily travel allowance. Incidentally, this does not only apply to Guinea, but to all delegates.
Is Question 2 maybe easier to answer? Who pays the travel expenses and daily allowances? On the website of the Bonn COP23 we get some information on this:
Daily subsistence allowance disbursement and travelDelegates from Parties eligible for funding are kindly requested to contact the daily subsistence allowance (DSA) office located in the temporary structure in the foyer of the main building of the World Conference Center Bonn as of Monday, 30 April 2018. Delegates attending the pre-sessional meetings of the regional groups are invited to come to the DSA office in room H-030 in the Altes Abgeordnetenhochhaus building on the United Nations Campus from Tuesday, 24 April to Friday, 27 April. Please bring your passport, electronic flight ticket confirmation and boarding pass(es). After receiving clearance from the DSA office, delegates can proceed to the bank to collect their DSA.”
So there is a group of participants who are eligible for flight, accommodation and daily allowance. All you have to do is go to a booth at the conference with your passport and plane tickets, and then there’s cash from the bank. It can be assumed that the participants of most African countries are fully financed by the UN.
In view of the good daily allowances and travel opportunity, the incentive to participate in the climate conferences is great. The COP24 has its own website for ‘Funded Delegates Accommodation’. The minimum stay in Katowice is 12 days. What is the usual UN daily allowance? According to the ICSC website, Poland receives $194 per day outside Warsaw. For a stay of 12 days, that’s $2,328 per person. In Bonn, it was $272 per day in the previous year. This may explain the slight decline in the number of interested parties this year.
Is COP24 really only about climate?