Article / 01 Dec, 2018
Making COP24 Sustainable

UN Climate Change News, 1 December 2018 – The UN Climate Change secretariat and the Polish Ministry of Environment are working together to make COP24 (2 – 14 December) in Katowice, Poland, as sustainable as possible.

The event is to be entirely climate neutral, with the priority of the organizers being to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the greatest possible extent.

“To reduce the overall climate footprint of the event, a series of measures have been arranged in areas such as waste management and paper reduction”, says Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Counsellor to the Minister and Head of the Ozone Layer Protection Team, Plenipotentiary for Environmental Management in the Ministry of the Environment of Poland.

Inevitable GHG emissions will be calculated in accordance with accepted international standards and offset through an afforestation project in Poland.

Comprehensive information on measures undertaken to reduce the carbon and overall environmental footprint of the Conference and offset unavoidable GHG emissions related to it is available here

Sustainability measures

Sustainable transportation

  • Local mobility is an important source of emissions. To facilitate the mobility of participants, in particular travel between the main hotels and the site of the conference, public transportation will be used to the extent possible. Public transportation in Katowice and the surroundings areas will be free to COP24 participants. The conference venue is easily accessible via public transportation.
  • The staff of the COP24 General Contractor will be using car-sharing services in Katowice and its urban agglomeration to limit the use of its own vehicle fleet.

Reporting and offsetting of unavoidable GHG emissions

Unavoidable GHG emissions associated with COP24 will be documented by means of a carbon footprint report prepared by the host country, Poland. The estimation will be done in accordance with accepted international standards and cover the travel of all registered participants to Katowice.

In order to achieve a climate neutral conference, unavoidable emissions will be compensated by removing the equivalent amount of CO2 through an afforestation project of the Polish State Forests agency.

In addition, the UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative offers organizations, companies and individuals the possibility to compensate the carbon footprint generated by their personal activities not related to COP24 by purchasing UN-certified offsets. Certified emission reduction credits from Clean Development Mechanism projects support environmentally friendly projects in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development.

Participants who compensate their emissions through the platform will automatically receive a personalized certificate from the UN Climate Change secretariat to attest to their climate action, as well as – at the time of registration – a Climate Neutral Now lanyard.

The Polish Environment Ministry, in charge of the environmental aspects of the conference, is registered in the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the environmental management system of the EU, whose requirements support the implementation of resource and energy efficient solutions and the evaluation of environmental performance.

Waste management

“Waste management”, explains Dennis Winkler, UNFCCC’s lead for the sustainable organization of UN Climate Change Conferences, “includes reusing, sorting and recycling materials that would otherwise be disposed of, for instance at a landfill site or through incineration, as well as avoiding or limiting the use of disposable products, with the objective of reducing the amount of waste produced.”

  • All rooms of the conference venue will feature strict waste separation. Waste will be processed according to current Polish regulations.
  • The use of disposable individual packaging for transporting goods will be minimized, with a preference for reusable large-scale packaging. Packaging of computer equipment delivered for the conference will be reused afterwards. Packaging for catering products will mainly be environmentally friendly.
  • As part of a welcome package, conference participants will be provided a reusable bottle that can be refilled at the water dispensers available free of charge throughout the conference venue. This will substantially limit the use of individual plastic bottles and paper or plastic cups.

Reusable materials

  • To further reduce the amount of waste produced, the materials used for the set-up of the conference site, including the equipment and decoration of spaces on a commercial basis such as offices and pavilions, will be reusable to the extent possible. Backdrops, platforms and wall elements will be made from reusable materials. The carpet used in the conference venue and the fabrics used in conference halls will also be reused.
  • The laminated boards used for constructing walls will be recycled, while the signage banners will be reused after the event, for instance by upcycling them into bags.
  • The UNFCCC Pavilion and the GCA Amphitheatre will be equipped with recycled cardboard furniture provided under a partnership agreement between UNFCCC and Austrian company Papertown. The corrugated cardboard is a 100% recyclable material from re-growing resources which allows reducing energy and CO2 emissions during transportation and storage – also as a result of Papertown’s flat-packing technique, which reduces space requirements.

Paperlight conference

To reduce the use of paper, all official documents will be available in digital format and participants will be able to download them from the UNFCCC website. Staff at the Documentation Services Counter will help participants to locate and access documents online via screens at the Counter, computers provided at computer centres or participants’ own laptops, tablet computers or other handheld devices. The Daily Programme will be made available as an electronic version only.

Participants are encouraged to print and photocopy only what is absolutely necessary prior to and during the sessions. “That way”, says Winkler, ”all participants can play an active part in a sustainable COP”.

“To further limit the use of paper”, added Tomaszewska, ”the number of pages for printing in a single session and the number of sessions available to any given user at the computer centres will be limited, with double-sided printing as the default option.

Virtual participation

Virtual participation options for COP24 include live broadcast of all official side events. Links to the broadcasts will be available on the UNFCCC website. More information on virtual participation options can be found here.