First Full Day to Explore COP24

Falling snow in KatowiceI walked out of my hotel into a snowstorm that made it feel like Minnesota – big heavy wet flakes.

After getting on the road to go to Katowice, we soon realized that 2” of snow messes up rush hour traffic no matter where you are. The normal hour-long trip took almost twice as long. However, snow-covered trees are beautiful here, too.

Snowy trees in Poland

As you would imagine, COP proceedings have a high level of security. It is essentially like airport security with the added level of needing to apply months in advance and get prescreened to get your official badge. Once you are in the secure perimeter there are a series of temporary tent buildings that were constructed on the grounds of Katowice’s International Conference Center. These structures along with the permanent facilities house a large number of meeting rooms, auditoriums, coffee and food stations, and a variety of other support items.

Welcome to Poland stairsAs you enter the Conference Center you are struck by the fact that the majority of the angular surfaces are painted almost black — to be the color of coal. This area in Katowice was once a coal mine. It was redeveloped into the Conference Center a few years ago, but they wanted to reference some of the site’s history.

We started the morning by meeting with a few staff people for members of the U.S House of Representatives and Senate.

It was very interesting to hear their points of view. They urged businesses to reach out to and advocate to Congress to take action on climate change.

P. Wells Griffith III One interesting thing here is you never know who you will run into. We’ve met foreign dignitaries, heads of companies, etc. You also never know who you will see. There seems to be people being interviewed on camera constantly. I wonder how many times I show up walking in the background — hopefully I’m not doing something funny. While looking at the pavilions I saw P. Wells Griffith III, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs, one of the top U.S. Government officials here. He was being pursued by a pack of about 20 reporters, including the last one who stopped near me to catch his breath.

Official U.S. chair in negotiationsThe next stop was to check out the Plenary room where the main meetings with all the country seats are – the one you see on TV. It was between sessions, so we were able to look around. I took what may be my only opportunity to sit in the U.S. seat at a United Nations event. It is a surreal experience to be in the room.

After a little more exploration, the Climate Generation delegation met up with several others from the University of Minnesota for a delicious meal at one of the few vegetarian restaurants in Katowice. The food was great and the owners were extremely accommodating and pulled out all the stops for us.

Window into COP24 delegation wearing North hats

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