COP24: Sustainability and climate neutrality

Wed, 05/12/18

From 2 until 14 December In Katowice, Poland, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the Unites Ntions Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) is taking place. As part of the overall sustainability strategy of the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the efforts of the Polish Environment Ministry to organise a sustainable COP, a number of actions are being undertaken to reduce the climate footprint of the Conference and offset unavoidable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to it. 

In the present context, unless stated differently, sustainability refers to the environmental dimension of sustainable development as defined by the Brundtland Commission and the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). More concretely, the UN Sustainable Events Guide defines a sustainable event as “designed, organised and implemented in a way that minimises potential negative impacts and leaves a beneficial legacy for the host community and all involved”.

Some of the sustainability initiatives include:


Climate neutrality


To achieve the overall goal of a climate-neutral event (which has become standard practice for COPs), the amount of GHG emissions generated in connection with the sessions will be reduced to the extent possible. Yet, certain emissions (such as those associated with travel, which is responsible for the lion’s share of the overall footprint) remain unavoidable and will therefore be offset.

In close coordination with the UNFCCC secretariat, the Polish Environment Ministry will calculate GHG emissions associated with the Conference, including those related to long-distance travel of all registered participants, in accordance with robust international standards and offset them through CO2 removals by forest ecosystems, i.e. through afforestation measures and the implementation of a Polish forest carbon farm pilot project.

The climate neutrality of the Conference will be documented by means of a carbon footprint report.


Waste avoidance and recycling


Every effort should be made to avoid the generation of waste in the first place. Participants are asked to actively participate in the waste management initiative and support waste avoidance and waste separation as much as possible.

All areas of the conference venue will feature strict separation of any unavoidable waste to enable the highest possible quality of recycling:

In addition to the fractions shown above, relevant areas of the conference venue will be equipped with containers for special waste, e.g. batteries, light bulbs and small household appliances.

Use of disposable individual packaging for transporting goods will be minimised, with a preference for reusable large-scale packaging. Packaging of computer equipment delivered for the Conference will be reused afterwards. Most of the packaging for catering products will be environmentally friendly (e.g. compostable).

To further reduce the amount of waste produced, the materials used for the setup of the conference venue, including the equipment and decoration of spaces on a commercial basis such as offices and pavilions, will be reusable to the extent possible. Backdrops, platforms and wall elements will be made from reusable materials. The carpet used in the conference venue and the fabrics used in conference halls will also be reused.


Drinking water


To limit the use of individual disposable plastic bottles and paper cups, water dispensers available throughout the conference venue may be used with reusable bottles that will be distributed to all registered participants as part of a welcome package free of charge at the Information Desk.

If you lose your reusable bottle, you may wish to buy a drink in a reusable bottle on site or at a nearby supermarket and refill that bottle with the water available through dispensers.


For a full list of all of the initiatives being implemented during COP24, please visit UNFCCC's website.

Categories: Energy, Meetings, Offsets, Procurement, Waste, Water