The two-week 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), which started on Sunday in Katowice, Poland, will focus on carbon neutrality and gender equality.
The world is gathering to define how the 2015 Paris Agreement would be implemented and moved forward by its 197 parties, days after the UN sounded the alarm on the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
Under the agreement, all countries have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global average rise in temperature to well below two degrees centigrade, and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees centigrade.
Kicking off the two-week event in Katowice, a team of cyclists on electric bikes arrived from Vienna, having biked 600 km- to demonstrate the value of renewable energy in reducing emissions.
The expedition was supported by the UN Global Compact, a group of private sector companies committed to sustainable development.
The cycling team, called “Moving for Climate NOW”, made up of about 40 people from different institutions and countries was welcomed by UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad, and Jakub Gibek, Head of the Climate Policy Unit of the Ministry of Environment of Poland.
Sarmad said: “I commend the cyclists involved in this bike tour for inspiring the world to move in the right direction to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement.
“This is the most important COP since the signing of the agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism.”
To limit COP24’s footprint and achieve carbon neutrality, the conference organisers have taken a series of measures.
First, public transportation in the city is free of charge for the duration of the conference, for all participants.
In addition, reusable materials have been used to set up the conference rooms, including carpets and backdrops, while recycled cardboard furniture was installed the main meeting spaces.
The conference will also enforce a strict waste management policy: distinct recycling bins will be available in all meeting rooms; and the packaging of electronic equipment has been saved and would be reused after the conference is over.
Also, the packaging of catering products is environmentally friendly; single-use plastic products are limited across the space; and overall, the conference is paper light, with official documents available only in digital versions.
To limit greenhouse emissions due to transportation, virtual participation is encouraged and supported through live webcasts of the main events.
Unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions due to the event will be tracked through a rigorous calculation by the organisers based on international standards.
It is anticipated that COP24 will generate approximately 55,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
To offset this, the Polish Government has committed to planting more than six million trees, capable of absorbing the equivalent of the conference’s emissions in the next 20 years.