Some Positive News from COP24

There is much to report from COP24 at Katowice that is positive. The city itself is a fine achievement of 19th. Century town planning with a central market square and axial boulevards. Despite some unfortunate Communist era insertions the streetscapes are harmonious in scale, with much from the late 19th. Century to the 1930s of real architectural quality. Like most central European cities Katowice sensibly maintained its electric tram system, and indeed some of the lines have units that are decades old which would appeal greatly to public transport nerds. They also show that electric powered vehicles, whether external wire or battery, have a much longer working life than combustion engined ones. On top of the continuing climate emissions impacts, this is a major argument against the route of switching from fossil fuel buses to fossil and bio gas combustion systems, instead of electric, to solve the diesel pollution in so many European cities.

Katowice has an fine new integrated centre city railway and bus station, with the buses in an efficient fast turn around loop under the railway concourse. A large part of the the city centre is pedestrianized and limited to public transport and delivery vehicles with wall to wall paving in local granite through which the complex maze of tram lines run. There is a real coherence and quality of urban transport planning and public realm design evident. Dublin after the fiasco of the College Green plaza scheme collapse is put to shame by Katowice.

Within the COP venue of meetings, "side events", and press conferences there is a visibility and active presence of younger people much more than in previous years. Under the YOUNGO umbrella name for youth NGOs there was an inspirational energy and urgency to the press conferences attended. Here are young people from all continents organizing themselves, well informed on and impatient with the tortuous UNFCC climate negotiations, and articulate in demanding action from dithering government ministers and public servants. A major continuing presence at COP24 is the Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg who started a one person "Skolstrejk for Kilmetet", school strike for climate, by sitting outside the parliament in Stockholm demanding action. Greta cuts through the compromises and obfuscation of the negotiations with blunt talking. Supported by her parents she now makes a protest every Friday. (Twitter @GretaThunberg)

The International National Trusts Organization INTO of which An Taisce is part, is sharing an exhibition stand as it did at last years COP with the Global Ecovillages Network. (Twitter @GEN_Ecovillages). GEN promotes an integrated vision of community empowerment and co operation, living in harmony with the natural world. It is a model of applying the principles of SDG 11 on “Sustainable Cities and Communities” on the ground. There have been inspiring presentations from across the world on making villages more resilient and self sustaining for the challenges ahead, including nature friendly food production from the surrounding countryside without being dependent on high tech outside investment. Another example was looking at how the traditional buildings of North Africa and Arabia keep cool by day and warm at night, showing how mechanical air conditioning can be avoided. The Eco village principles are applicable to urban area communities as much as rural villages, and “developed“ areas, or as we should now wake up to think, wrongly developed countries like Ireland. At other presentations throughout COP there were insights into how supporting indigenous food production, efficient water management, the use of solar panels, less smoky contained cooking stoves and mobile phones can transform quality of life and opportunity in developing countries.

As always the contributions by the Brussels based EU remit wide NGO "Transport and the Environment" (T&E) were an inspiration to hear in quality of research and clear recommendations for practical action. This included presentations on aviation and shipping, which needs to be brought into a full legal regime for climate mitigation which is being evaded. T&E's Carlos Calvo Ambell cycled through the Polish smog from Vienna, the distance of what was an overnight train journey for me, in getting to COP.

Manchester based Kevin Anderson (Twitter @KevinClimate ) of the Tyndall Institute, who promotes a logical no fly policy to climate conferences which should be emulated at large, is making several presentations at COP. He a master in communicating up to date climate science and the imperative if meeting the Carbon Budget which requires immediate, rapid and sustained emission cuts to start now.

Presentations setting out the clear case for greater action on animal agriculture as much as fossil are gaining ground at COP. The US based organization Brighter Green and UK based Feedback led with strong messages. The Feedback Chief Executive Carina Millstone stated on Friday: "there is no room for global livestock if we want stable climate" (Twitter

It was also particularly welcome to see, hear and meet so many climate action committed Americans who organized a series of events under the banner "WeAreStllin". The WWF pavillion on Friday hosted presentations on what US States, cities and civil society groups are doing on climate action in defiance of a delinquent Federal Government.

These voices and organisations need to be heard by all us of daily. Too much of mainstream media is entangled in backyard political coverage, trivia, and deference to the “business” lobby, and its advertising revenue. It needs to wake up to the reality that there will be no living planet or society if the blinkered short term economics that is trapping decision making continues.


For further information, contact:
Ian Lumley, Advocacy Officer, An Taisce: +353 1 454 1786
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland

Reports from COP24:

  1. Polish Coal for Soap and Cosmetics Exhibition - Ian Lumley's report from COP24
  2. Some Positive News from COP24 - Ian Lumley's 2nd Report
  3. Professor Sweeney's 1st report from Katowice
  4. Professor Sweeney's 2nd Report from Katowice
  5. A Comprehensive and Hard Hitting Report from COP24 by Ian Lumley
  6. Professor Sweeney's 3rd report from Katowice

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.