December 7, 2018

Civil Society representatives denied entry to Poland to participate in COP24 climate talks

Katowice, 7 December 2018: It is with deep concern that, Climate Action Network (CAN) and  partners have learnt that Polish authorities denied entry and/or deported at least 13 members of civil society groups due to attend the United Nations climate talks in Poland.

The deportations follow the enactment of national legislation earlier this year passed by the Polish Government in relation to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC CoP24) currently underway in the southern city of Katowice, from 2 – 14 December 2018. Several United Nations human rights experts have publicly questioned the compatibility of the law with international human rights standards.

“Hours before the climate march, which was duly registered and approved by the respective authorities in advance for December 8, and is a peaceful non-violent action, at least 10 observers from civil society organizations from eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) were detained at the border and denied entry on allegations of being “a threat to public order and security”. Those, who are only planning to come to COP24 are also at risk. People are detained for long periods in ill-fitted rooms, searched and interrogated. Then they are deported. For the first time in COP’s entire history, the declared climate justice, key human rights and liberties, transparency and accessibility of the process that are guaranteed by the Europeean Union legislation and the rules of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the annual Conference of Parties (COP24), were flagrantly violated and became a humiliating obstacle for the civil society representatives from a climatically vulnerable region.” – says Svitlana Romanko, regional coordinator of in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).

“The fact that these are not isolated instances are extremely worrying and we view the actions by the Polish border authorities in an extremely serious light”  Dr. Stephan Singer, Interim Executive Focal Point at Climate Action Network (CAN). CAN is a network comprising of more than 1,300 organisations working in over 120 countries. Under its network CAN convenes the largest share of environmental non-governmental organisations under the UN climate convention.

“The full and effective participation by civil society is entrenched in the Convention and, in fact, is imperative in our efforts to urgently transition to a new climate regime.”

Several civil society organisations have registered strong objection to the incidents that occurred since the beginning of the UN conference.

“We strongly condemn the denial of entry and deportation of colleagues who have not been allowed into Poland in order to take part in COP24. From what we understand the reasons for refusing entry are due to allegations that they are a ‘threat to national security.’ These staff members and volunteers are individuals committed to tackling the climate crisis the world faces through campaigning for sustainable solutions.” said May Boeve, Executive Director of

“It is the belief of all of us at, and our partners, that the biggest threat that we face to our international and national security is that of not tackling the climate crisis and taking the urgent and necessary action to leave fossil fuels in the ground now.  This is underscored in the recent IPCC Special Report on 1.5C Global Warming.”

The voices of those denied entry to COP24 are essential to the unfolding climate talks and it is unacceptable that their presence at the climate talks should be impeded in this way. Ongoing restrictions on civil society will not stop a resilient climate movement.”

The statement by and CAN International is supported by Attac France, CAN Europe, Climate Justice Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, Demand Climate Justice, Ecoaction, Friends of the Earth International, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Greenpeace International, IBON International, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Just Transition Alliance, Oil Change International, Protect the Planet, Sustain US, Ukrainian Climate Network,

Reactions from partners, CAN members and other allies:

Greenpeace Poland Office Director Bohdan Pękacki said:

“As host of the most important climate summit since Paris, Poland has the eyes of the world on it and the question is, what sort of host does Poland want to be? Will it embrace the demands of people demanding action and allow their voices to be heard or silence them through denied entry?”

Friends of the Earth Germany’s Ann-Kathrin Schneider said:

We are working together with civil society groups from all over the world in Katowice to hold our leaders accountable and demand a response to the climate crisis. We are extremely worried about the decision of Polish authorities to deny individuals from our partner group entry into the country. We demand that everybody who wants to come to the climate conference is allowed into the country to enact their right to participate in peaceful civil society actions for the climate.”

Iryna Stavchuk, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Initiatives “Ecoaction” (Ukraine) said:

“Participation of representatives of civil society organisations in climate negotiations is crucial, as they act as important leverage in decision-making. All this is to make sure that achievement of Paris Agreement goal to keep global warming at 1,5 – 2 °С level becomes a reality. We find the actions of Polish authorities denying entry of peaceful activists unacceptable”.

Wendel Trio, Director Climate Action Network Europe said:

“It is appalling and a disgrace that one of our collaborators who successfully co-organised a March of 65.000 people in Brussels last week has been denied entry into Poland. People are demanding climate action from our governments and should be supported for doing so. The Polish government is afraid to see the reality that also they need to act.”

Kim Bryan

Global Communications Campaigner-

Mail: [email protected], or whatsapp/call on +447770881503


François Rogers

Head of Communications

CAN International

Mail: [email protected], or whatsapp/call on +44 (0) 7 585 707 220