Coal and Consequences: Five Days in Katowice

Daniel Judt in The Point:

As the bus nears downtown Katowice, the site of the 24th annual UN Climate Conference, or COP24, two huge funnels loom into view: a coal mine. There are fourteen in Katowice, although only two remain active. The rest lie strewn across the city like dormant volcanoes. The UN insists that Katowice is in transition—“from black to green,” says a welcome video at the opening ceremony—and claims that 40 percent of the city’s surface area is devoted to green spaces. Judging by the looks on their faces as they ogle the coal mine, the delegates on this bus do not see it that way. When they disembark, one of them scrunches up his nose at the unmistakable smell—rich and smoky—that wafts from an alleyway. Many Katowicians still burn coal for heat.

The conference center, called Spodek, is a massive circular arena with one end tilted upwards, which makes it look like a crashed flying saucer. To accommodate the thirty thousand or so conference attendees, Katowice has attached a network of temporary hallways (all climate-controlled, though they often oscillate between way too hot and way too cold) and a boxy entrance hall to Spodek, with a security apparatus to rival an airport.

More here.