Conference of the Parties on climate change begins

Conference of the Parties
© iStock/Rainer von Brandis

The United Nations Conference of the Parties, focusing on international action to combat climate change, began today in Katowice, Poland.

The 24th annual Conference of the Parties (COP24) will run from December 3 to 14 in Katowice and will be presided over by the Polish government. Its primary aim is to ensure the continued implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and encourage nations to take further action against climate change, in the wake of the IPCC’s devastating report detailing the necessity of halting global temperature rises.

Opening the leaders’ summit, European Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič said: “I am delighted that the Conference of the Parties is once again taking place in Europe. Katowice symbolises the industrial revolutions of the past and of the future. The city saw the rapid industrialisation of the 19th century and now is part of the new revolution — into a clean, sustainable, fair, and eventually climate-neutral economy. This revolution is well under way here and all across Europe.”

British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough delivered a speech at the Conference of the Parties opening ceremony calling for immediate action on climate change. Attenborough, who had taken up the conference’s “People’s Seat” representing the link between politicians and citizens, said: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Šefčovič told the Conference of the Parties: “I am proud that the European Union has now translated its commitments under the Paris Agreement into a set of binding laws. We are the first major economy to do so. We are set to reap the dividends of being a first mover on climate action. Having said that, let me say loud and clear: this is not sufficient. The IPCC special report is yet the latest alarming wake-up call, stressing that every bit of warming matters and urgent action is needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — if we want to keep our planet safe.”

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