A week devoted to climate change

Many eyes are focusing on Warsaw these days because of the UN Climate Conference , COP19.

I met some members of the Swedish delegation this Saturday evening and was happy to hear first of all about a very well organised event. Once again I believe Poland is showing its huge capacity to make things work – as it did during the EU Presidency and the Euro 2012 tournament.

The following question is obviously a different one. Will the negotiations take the necessary steps forward towards a global agreement to be concluded in Paris 2015? I sincerely hope so but it remains to be seen. It is this week when the political leaders are attending, including our own Minister of Environment Lena Ek, that we will be able to observe how far the international community is able to move to make an effective deal in two years feasible.

After the serious messages from the researchers earlier this autumn it is certainly reasonable to ask for more concerted action than before.

Nobody could of course know for sure whether this typhoon catastrophe in the Philippines is related to climate change. On the other hand we know that climate change will mean more extreme weather and many people living in poverty and in poor countries will be the ones that will suffer most. Like we have seen now in the Philippines. The speech by their delegate at the opening of COP19 was very moving indeed.

The delegations are clearly working day and night at the stadium where the conference is ongoing. I can tell that for sure since I can see from e-mails, sent by Swedish delegates, that they are reporting at some very inconvenient hours.

Our Embassy has been involved i.a. in preparations of the practicalities and in facilitating the work of our delegation. My co-workers Vanda Czifra and Teresa Baran-Kaczmarczyk together with our intern Giuliana Michaj have done a really great job. So far I have seen happy smiles both from the delegation and from them, and I look forward to start participating myself. This week is largely reserved for COP19 in my calendar. Starting more or less from now.

My last two weeks have been quite diversified in terms of activities. Some examples below.

(Photo: Bartek Janiczek).

November 9th my wife and I spent in Wrocław to participate in the commemoration of the Crystal night, 75 years ago – the horrors that could be seen as the introduction to what was to become the Holocaust. We participated last year and now once again. An extremely dignified ceremony including the march from the White stork Synagogue to the place where the second synagogue was located – before it was destroyed during the crystal night. Polish speakers will find the text to my speech through this link (a Swedish version is available as well).  My key message though was very simple. All of us needs to fight against antisemitism, racism, extremism and hate every single day. Then the crucial message, Never more, can be transformed from a slogan into reality.

We returned to Warsaw well before the Independence day celebrations, where I always especially appreciate listening to the messages of President Komorowski – this time looking forward to the commemoration next year of the breakthrough of democracy almost 25 years ago.

Some ten days ago I attended an inspiring panel discussion about immigration and integration organised by the student association for scandinavistic studies at Univeristy of Warsaw (that in Swedish has decided to call itself Glada älgen). It gave me a good opportunity to present some Swedish experiences in this area – including both achievements and shortcomings.

Thursday last week I got a similar opportunity though with a different subject – a lecture about gender equality at the Koźmiński University, also here in Warsaw. Extremely inspiring to meet students and respond to their questions. I have done this increasingly this year, rather recently with a presentation about the Swedish welfare state in Katowice during the Nordalia festival in October. And I truly hope there will be even more opportunities 2014.

I started that Thursday with a short visit to Plac Zbawiciela where I followed the example of many Poles and attached a couple of flowers to the burnt rainbow – and added a card with the text “In support of tolerance” since the rainbow, for me and I believe many others, is one of the symbols for tolerance and hence respect for other human beings.

And I believe many Poles and Swedes feel that Europe indeed needs more tolerance, not less.

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