Informally known as COP24, the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC) will be held in Katowice, Poland, from 3–14 December.
The UNFCCC is a one of three conventions adopted at the historic ‘Rio Earth Summit” in 1992, which sought to help countries to rethink economic development and find ways to halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet. The UNFCCC, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, aims to ultimately prevent all dangerous human interferences with the climate system. Today, the UNFCCC has near-universal membership and countries that ratified the convention are called ‘Parties to the Convention’.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the UNFCCC Convention. It consists of the representatives of the Parties to the Convention and holds its sessions every year. The COP takes decisions which are necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention and regularly reviews the implementation of these provisions.
Poland was chosen as the venue for COP24 in accordance with a decision taken at the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention (COP22) in Marrakesh in November 2016. Poland was selected to host this event within the framework of the Eastern European Group (EEG) and this will be the third time that Poland is holding the Presidency of the Climate Convention.
In addition to the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC, the Katowice Climate Change Conference will include the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), as well as the third part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1-3). The conference will also include the 49th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), and the seventh part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-7).
The conference is expected to finalize the rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change under the Paris Agreement work program (PAWP), and will include a number of high-level events, mandated events, action events and roundtables. Among the high-level events slated to convene during the conference are the High-level Global Climate Action Event on 4 December; a high-level part of the stock-take on pre-2020 implementation and ambition on 10 December; the third biennial Ministerial High-level Dialogue on Climate Finance under the theme, ‘Translating Climate Finance Needs into Action,’ on 10 December; and the political phase of the Talanoa Dialogue, with the opening of the dialogue and ministerial roundtables to be held on 11 December.
The ‘Leaders Summit’ to be held on 3 December will provide heads of states and governments with an opportunity to send a strong signal in order to work out the most comprehensive package of implementing measures possible for the Paris Agreement.
The implementation of the PAWP is the key priority for the Polish COP24 Presidency. The implementing package to be adopted in Katowice should be comprehensive enough to allow for the implementation of all provisions of the Paris Agreement, as well as reassure all Parties that no issue has been omitted.
The Polish presidency during COP24 said it plans to focus its message on three key themes:
- Technology – development of climate-friendly modern solutions, such as electromobility
- Man – solidary and just transition of industrial regions
- Nature – achieving climate neutrality by absorbing CO2 by forests and land, or by water management.
The presidency said in a statement that it was drafting another set of priorities and initiatives that may leave a lasting mark on the process and the real world. “In terms of the long-term objective of the Paris Agreement, which is to attain climate neutrality and reduce carbon dioxide levels, forestry is an extremely important sector, where we are tapping into the potential of ecosystems to capture greenhouse gases. Other initiatives we pursue are focused on promoting electromobility and developing the just transition concept, which is best illustrated by the transformations experienced in recent years by Katowice, the host city of COP24. During the COP24 Presidency, we will want to adopt ministerial declarations relevant to all these problem areas and we encourage all Parties to the Convention to become signatories,” the communique said.
For its part the Polish government, as a part of the implementation of the Responsible Development Strategy, has developed a series of regulations aimed at popularizing low- and zero-emission vehicles. The Package for Clean Transport includes such documents as the Plan for the Development of Electromobility in Poland, the National Framework for the Development Policy of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure and the Act on Electromobility and Alternative Fuels.
In June, the Polish government launched its ‘Clean Air’ program with the main goal of improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings and significantly reducing the emissions of atmospheric pollutants over a period of ten years.
Polish government is also trying to create favorable conditions for the construction of a profitable, effective and modern hard coal mining sector, based on cooperation, knowledge and innovation, and is testing innovative coal technologies such as coal gasification. Among other projects submitted by the Poland, are plans to create a pumped storage power plant in the liquidated Krupiński mine in Suszec, as well as a project for hydrogen cells prepared by Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa.
The forest coverage of Poland is systematically increasing. From 1995 to 2014, the area of forests, including the state forests supervised by the Ministry of Environment, increased by 504 thousand hectares. Today, forests make up almost a third part of the territory of Poland. Scientific researches show that by planting specific tree species, we can increase the ability of forests to absorb CO2. During COP24 Poland wants to present other countries the technique of absorbing CO2 by soil and forests.