Press Conference with UNFCC & Polish Government. | Photo by Esra Sergi, UN DPI

Katowice, 1 December

A procedural opening—After a night of light snow and sleet, there were rays of sunshine this morning as the 197 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change descended on Katowice to begin their deliberations to finalize the rulebook for implementing the Paris Agreement. It was a procedural opening to get things going—the grand opening will be on Monday, 3 December, with Heads of State and Government, as well as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, participating.

It’s not that the Paris Agreement is wanting for details on the goals and objectives for addressing climate change—countries agreed to work toward limiting climate change to well under 2°C this century, 1.5°C if possible. But countries agreed back in Paris that rules were needed to ensure open and honest accounting of action and that COP24 in 2018 was the deadline for completing these rules.

A Big Conference—By any measure, the Climate Conference is a big meeting.  During the course of the two-week Conference, 31,000 people will participate in some fashion, including 14,500 delegates, 7,000 NGOs, and close to 1,700 media.  Not all will be here at the same time, but the space is huge and walking the site from end to end is close to a kilometer.

Venue in Katowice, Poland where COP24 is held | Photo by Dan Shepard, UN DPI

You can take climate action and grow the economy—One of the biggest arguments used by people to oppose swift climate action is that it would be detrimental to economic growth. Not so, according to Helmut Hojesky of Austria, during a press briefing by the European Union. “It is possible to decouple  emissions from economic growth,” he said, adding that recent economic growth in the European Union over the last few years has been accompanied by a reduction in emissions. And he said the EU would continue to pursue aggressive reductions, even beyond expectations.  “We are overachieving.”

Promoting individual action on climate change—Sir David Attenborough, renowned natural historian, was spotted at the Conference center today.  He will be launching a new campaign on Monday aimed at urging people to take climate action into their own hands. Details will follow.