Negotiators from around the world have opened the United Nations’ annual climate change conference in Poland, three years after sealing a landmark deal in Paris that set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2C (3.6F).
Arriving for two weeks of talks, conference participants cast off hats, scarves and heavy coats as they entered cavernous halls in Katowice heated by coal-fired power plants nearby, reports AP.
Poland plans to use Monday’s official opening event to promote a declaration calling for a “just transition” for fossil fuel industries that face cuts and closures amid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental activists have expressed concerns about the non-binding declaration, arguing that it could be cited as justification for propping up dying industries instead of investing in renewable energy sources.
Some also have questioned why coal companies are among the meeting’s sponsors. Poland’s deputy environment minister, Michal Kurtyka, who is chairing the conference, urged envoys from almost 200 nations to use the time between Sunday and December 14 to make progress on fleshing out the 2015 Paris agreement.
“We are here to enable the world to act together on climate change,” he said. With further meetings next year meant to build on what’s decided in Katowice, Mr Kurtyka urged all countries to “show creativity and flexibility”.
“The United Nations secretary-general is counting on us, all of us to deliver,” he added. “There is no Plan B.”