Ida Karlsson, PhD Student at the divison of Energy Technology at Chalmers, at COP 24.
The first week of COP24, the UN Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland was full of paradoxes. To start with, the site of the conference itself is one clear paradox. With the slogan Black to Green, Katowice has closed 18 of its 20 coal mines, one of which has been converted into the beautifully designed green roofed cultural zone housing the COP. At a first glance, Katowice appears transformed and thriving, having an unemployment rate of only 1.7% and one of Europe’s large fleet of electric buses. At the same time, the smoky haze over the city from the coal-fired residential heating is often thick and the strong ties to coal was rather unsubtle with Katowice pavilion at the conference decorated by chunks of coal stacked in metal crates parading jewelry and soaps made of coal.
To continue this paradox, Poland got the first Fossil of the Day Award by NGO Climate Action Network (CAN) International on the grounds of the sponsorships of the conference and Polish President Andrzej Duda saying in his speech during the opening ceremony that there is no contradiction between climate protection and coal use, domestic coal reserves will last for 200 years. Nevertheless, the Polish presidency of the COP, led by Michał Kurtyka, has taken an active and significant role in driving the negotiations forward, chairing discussions and exploring landing grounds.
Based on my experience from the first week, I would say that a few clear themes have emerged from the talks:
- the role of non-state actors,
- an enhanced focus on industry, partnerships and collaboration,
- a socially just transition, as well as
- moving from ambition to action.