Report from COP 24 Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland
Report from COP 24 Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland
Photo of display panel at COP24 Katowice UN Climate Change Conference Poland 2018

Representative from Poland gives remarks at COP24

December 12, 2018

This has been a difficult COP (Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) to attend.  Just before the conference there was an IPCC (Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change) report which stated that the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius was insufficient to protect the planet and that we needed to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.  This report has been rejected by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the three largest producers of oil. 

As Al Gore said today, they care more for their bottom line than the future of the planet.  It is probably the most unethical decision ever made in the history of the world.  Knowing what we know, the vast majority of the world is doing all it can to mitigate climate change using various methods such as burying carbon dioxide underground as Norway has been doing over the past 20 years, to moving quickly to power generation and storage that is completely free of fossil fuels.  All of this is within our grasp and much of the development of these new technologies are able to switch the globe from fossil fuel power to clean energy: solar, wind, etc.  However, those nations and companies which have vested interests in perpetuating the planet-killing use of fossil fuels which continue to enjoy tax-payer subsides in the United States won’t forego their profits even at the expense of the future of the planet and future generations.

Al Gore stands before an image of various environmental hazards at COP24 climate change conference in Poland.

"We’re burning a football field size of forest every second." -Al Gore at COP24

Multilateral action on climate change, as Al Gore said today, is the single most important moral decision of our time.  We either move quickly to address this existential threat of climate change or we consign the planet and all life on the planet to a living hell on earth (in the words of Al Gore this morning).  The science is clear to all.  Only a handful of nations with vested interests in gaining just a few more years of profits from fossil fuels chose to deny what the rest of the world accepts. 

Climate action is on the rise, but in the words of the president of COP 24, the action isn’t happening with the speed nor the scale to avoid great catastrophe.  This sentiment has been echoed by children, trade union representatives, representatives of indigenous peoples, business representatives and nearly every national representative at COP 24.  The task is urgent, and it needs maximum effort to avoid ever greater droughts, forest fires, hurricanes, and more.  The lungs of the earth are our forests and we are losing our forests due to human destruction of forests on the scale of a football field size of forest every second, according to Al Gore.  If we want air to breath, we need to protect our forests.  The keepers of our forests and water are the indigenous peoples of the planet.  We need desperately to learn from them how to live more gently on our planet. 

Today, I spoke at a interfaith press conference and talked about the UUA’s 2011 Ethical Eating resolution.  I said that: 

It will take the maximum efforts of us all to deal with this existential threat to the life of our planet and all the beautiful life that abides here.

There is only one way to tackle this problem and that is multilateral global action coordinated by the United Nations.  No one nation can do this.  No group of nations can achieve the goals necessary to save our planet.  It will take the concerted effort of all of us acting in concert under United Nations convening authority to deal with this and other such global issues, such as disarmament, global migration, global health, and most of all climate change. 

Bruce Knotts and Doris Marlin in an assembly hall at COP24 climate conference in Katowice

UUA representatives Bruce Knotts and Doris Marlin at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

About the Author

  • Bruce Knotts is the Director of the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations. He was born and raised in Southern California. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Pepperdine University and his Master’s Degree in International Education from the Monterey Institute of...

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