This year's biggest climate change conference is taking place in an unlikely city: Katowice, an industrial hub in southern Poland that has been at the center of Europe's coal mining industry.
As coal consumption accelerated in the 1990s, Katowice suffered from severe air pollution. In an attempt to overcome the problem, the local government implemented smoke bans and slapped floors on coal prices. Those measures increased heating costs but succeeded in reducing coal use.
Now Katowice is gaining attention for its attempts to transition to cleaner, more renewable energy. Those efforts will be on display this week as delegates from around the world gather for the 24th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
One highlight will be the Euro-Centrum Science and Technology Park, a government-built, environmentally friendly energy research center located at the site where a chemical equipment plant and paint factory once operated.
The park, a multi-use facility that houses offices, laboratories and services, now develops energy-saving technologies.
Because of its architectural design and energy-efficient installations, the building consumes eight times less energy than a standard facility. The body of the building was designed to eliminate unnecessary loss of heat, and there are no traditional heating or cooling systems.
Those advantages and more were presented by Pataryk Bialas, Euro-Centrum's Director of Innovation and Competence, before the main events at COP24 kicked off.
Irena reported from the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, with the support of the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.