Sunday was an official “day off” from official COP24 events, other than the high-level negotiators.
I attended the Sustainable Innovation Forum, which was an official affiliate event at a hotel in downtown Katowice. Some of the description from the website:
“Where policy-makers and climate technology innovators meet. The Sustainable Innovation Forum presents a crucial opportunity to drive forward the Paris Agreement framework by bringing together 600+ delegates engaged with fast tracking the global green economy. It is the premier meeting place for policy-makers and climate technology innovators to collaborate and exchange knowledge.”
I didn’t know what to expect of the event, I’d heard that it was a good event. I got the hotel, went through security, got my conference badge, and started to walk toward the meeting rooms. Walking a couple feet in front of me was a lady and a gentleman discussing how he thought things were going; I noticed he didn’t have a similar badge.
I didn’t think much of it until a little while later I saw the man again — on stage. It was COP24 President Michal Kurtyka. He gave the opening remarks and one of the things he said was:
“There is hope and opportunity in the world…the world is moving so fast it is only the matter of which opportunity to grasp.”
Throughout the day there were several interesting presentations and panel discussions on a variety of topics related to the Circular Economy, Sustainable Mobility, Energy Transition, and Climate Finance. There were many examples of how companies are tracking their energy and carbon footprints and becoming more profitable while doing it.
There were also several companies exhibiting their products or services, from small new startups to large multinational companies. During the networking opportunities around meal times and breaks was a great chance to meet company leaders in a many different industries. One thing that came up numerous times was Blockchain. I don’t really understand how it works but it is the digital infrastructure used in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Companies are now working on systems to connect people and companies that want to offset their carbon emissions with people and organizations on the ground doing carbon reduction strategies and essentially cut out the middle men.
Near the end of the event, one of my fellow delegates and I had a very interesting conversation with a journalist from Bulgaria. He was probably better informed on U.S. politics than 80%+ of U.S. citizens. When we described how we got there through Climate Generation and the founder was polar explorer Will Steger, he didn’t recognize either name. After a brief pause he said: “Oh yes, he’s the guy in the red coat!”
Before heading back to Oswiecim we enjoyed some live music, food, and a little shopping at the small Christmas Market downtown.