Hosting the COP24 in Katowice – a city at the heart of Polish coal country — is a tangible, daily reminder for attendees of the massive transition away from fossil fuels our world needs to facilitate. For the Polish Presidency, the setting has provided an opportunity to emphasize the need for “just transition”, as many communities depend on jobs in the coal industry. For them, the transition means helping those who will lose jobs with the phase out of coal find resources and training for new ones. However, small island nations already experiencing climate impacts have taken issue with this definition. For these nations, a “just transition” means urgent action to save entire countries from rising seas by limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius through eliminating coal and other fossil fuel use now.
The theme of urgency was amplified Thursday, being Youth and Future Generations Day at COP. Nongovernmental organizations admitted to observe COPs are loosely organized into nine constituencies, including YOUNGO, a youth cohort made of activists from around the world. This themed day provides a time for them to shine. This week, powerful youth leaders are demanding climate action aligned with the People’s Demands for Climate Justice, an official list of climate action demands endorsed by hundreds of millions of people from 129 countries.
One of the strongest youth voices at COP this year is Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old from Sweden who has left school every Friday for the last few months to sit outside the Swedish Parliament demanding Sweden aligns with the Paris Agreement. At a COP session this week she told the audience, “We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge.”
In honor of Youth Day, we’re excited to feature below the voices of two young people and their mentor teacher from Minnesota.
High on the agenda for this first week of COP24 is for Parties (or participating countries) to create the rulebook. These rules are essential: they will guide how Parties implement, account for, and communicate about their Paris Agreement commitments. The most contentious element of the rulemaking is financing — specifically how richer countries will be held accountable for the $100 billion committed annually in public and private climate finance by 2020.
We’re excited for our first delegate Alissa Matthies Tamasi of Target to webcast LIVE from Poland this afternoon at 1 p.m. She will be interviewing leaders from Ceres, CDP, and World Wildlife Fund about initiatives to uphold the Paris Agreement outside of federal action.
Here’s our round-up of notable news from this first week at COP:
- The World Bank is doubling its target for climate finance to $200 billion between 2021 and 2025, it announced on Monday.
- Global carbon emissions reached a record high in 2018.
- There are rumors of Trump administration officials giving a talk on coal.
- UNFCCC is focusing on gender equality and #ActOnTheGap this year.
Climate Generation Delegation Blogs
Today, we share the insights of two School of Environmental Studies students and their educator mentor. Our business delegation will begin blogging next week when they arrive in Katowice.
GUEST BLOG: Craig Johnson
GUEST BLOG: Jozie Burns, 12th grade
“The thing I’m most excited about is hearing the perspectives of nations that are rarely broadcasted in the United States.”
GUEST BLOG: McKenna Krey, 12th grade
“I am very excited to learn about some of the global climate change initiatives and strategies that will be presented at COP. How these initiatives can transfer into real change in our businesses and local communities will be of great interest to me.”
Don’t miss these students’ webinar next Tuesday on December 11th, at 12 p.m. CST.
You can also check out additional student blogs from youth delegates representing the School of Environmental Studies at COP24. If you’re an educator following along, don’t forget to check out our COP Educator Toolkit.
Mark your calendar for the COP24 webcasts throughout the experience!
TODAY: Alissa Matthies Tamasi (1 p.m. CST)
December 10: Jesse Turck (1 p.m. CST)
December 11: School of Environmental Studies (12 p.m. CST)
December 12: Michelle Courtright (1 p.m. CST)
December 13: Alexis Ludwig-Vogen (2 p.m. CST)
Save the Date
Don’t miss our post-COP24 panel on December 19, 4 to 5 p.m. CST, at the Institute on the Environment featuring our Minnesota delegates as they reflect on the Katowice Climate Talks. Attend in person or tune in digitally through our live webcast.
Sign up for your own Window into COP24 updates.