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Could coal lobbying and free speech curbs hamper pivotal UN climate talks?

BONN, Germany – United Nations (UN) human rights experts and civil society groups have raised concerns that a crucial meeting for implementing the Paris climate accord could be sabotaged by fossil fuels interests and restrictions on freedom of speech.

The next United Nations climate change meeting (COP24) to be held November in Katowice, Poland – one of the world’s largest coal-producing countries – is billed as the make-or-break summit for the Paris Agreement, a pact signed by more than 200 countries to spare the planet from the worst effects of climate change. (READ: Fighting climate change: What is the Paris Agreement?)

 COP24 aims to see nations adopt rules for implementing the Paris Agreement by 2020, but experts have warned that fossil fuel companies and lobbyists may try to thwart this objective.

Human rights experts such as Clement Nyaletsossi Voule – the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association – and Joe Cannataci – the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy – have urged the Polish government to ensure full and free civil society participation at the climate talks.

For the COP24 to be a success, experts have called on the Polish government to “do its utmost to prepare and hold the meeting in a manner that facilitates the climate change negotiations and also ensures meaningful civic space that is free from undue surveillance and restriction.”

They also reacted to the Polish government’s briefing guidelines for COP24 released on the same day in Bonn.

Rights groups said the guidelines included provisions of a bill that Poland President Andrzej Duda signed in late January. The provisions sought to ban spontaneous protests and allow police surveillance at the climate summit.

To view the full, original article from Rappler.com please click here.

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