[artinfo] Climate Activists Dupe Polish Government

The Yes Lab info at yeslab.org
Fri Oct 11 19:13:19 CEST 2013

Activists Fool Polish Government

Yesterday a post on the official website for the 19th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) climate negotiations incited a small international media storm. The post celebrated a near term future for the Arctic where “we may build new drilling platforms and retrieve natural resources hidden below the seabed,” going on to imagine that this new arctic terrain would contain less ice but more opportunity for “chasing the pirates, terrorists and ecologists that will come to hang around." Journalists and environmental organizations decried the gaffe as “absurd”, “crazy”, and “outrageous,” and insisted that it “brought shame on the meeting”. 

The website, however, was a sophisticated ruse, perpetrated by the Yes Lab and a global network of professional web experts. The website was so believable that it fooled not only media and professional activists but even the Polish Minister of the Environment. Marcin Korolec nobly defended the pranksters' entry in a misguided attempt to protect what he mistook as his government’s actual position on the beneficial impacts of climate change. Yet there were several other clues peppered around the site, including a formal invitation for readers to fix the global crisis by changing their personal hygiene habits (“What can be done to stop the climate change? Remembering to close the tap when brushing your teeth.”) and a childlike
explanation of the conference logo (“Grey arrows represent individuals who will take the green message forward turning themselves green.”). Government officials were likely duped by elaborate details like the fake page’s copyright symbol which attributed the website to Migomedia Interactive Agency, which is a real PR firm that does similar work for a wide variety of Polish government agencies.

The purpose of the stunt: to highlight that the real joke is the COP 19 negotiations themselves and the ridiculous pirate allegations against peaceful climate activists.  Greenpeace activists are currently facing piracy charges and lengthy jail time in Russia for peacefully opposing the existence of oil drilling rigs in the Arctic, made possible by melting of sea ice. 

Last month, the Polish government announced that the conference’s corporate sponsors would include Alstom, the original manufacturer for 95% of Poland’s coal power plant fleet installed since 1990, as well as ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel and mining company. ArcelorMittal has been accused of resisting the EU emissions trading scheme – the company’s annual emissions are approximately equal to those of the Czech Republic. General Motors was also announced as a sponsor – the same General Motors that funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) until 2012. ALEC is a lobbying group known for its anti-environmental legislation.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk recently said the government is keen on keeping domestic coal as a main source of energy and will limit the country’s investments in renewable energy to the bare minimum required by the European Union. Polish officials have repeatedly blocked efforts to reduce emissions at the international level.

“From the Philippines to Bangladesh, to New York City climate change is devastating communities around the world," said Sean Draaginbote, the Yes Lab's Director of Climate Irony. "In response, the UN climate negotiations are now being sponsored by those who profit from causing this very destruction. This kind of absurdity makes it difficult to distinguish fiction from reality.” When asked for comment, Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men said simply “This whole thing is a joke.”

Sean Draaginbote
Director of Climate Irony
Sean at yeslab.org
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