As government officials, scientists, and green activists gather for the United Nations climate conference in Poland, Adam Pietron has a few words of advice: Try to avoid the air. Pietron lives in Katowice, a coal-mining and steel-making stronghold for centuries that’s host to the conclave, and he says the pollution is so bad that this year he installed an air purifier.
“Sometimes the smog is terrible,” Pietron says, consulting an app on his phone that measures air quality. “A few days back, it was tough to breathe.” More than 22,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries are coming to a city as closely tied to the carbon economy as almost anywhere on earth.
Katowice is the capital of Silesia, the heart of the coal industry in the country with Europe’s worst air–mostly due to its continued reliance on the fuel for everything from massive power plants to basement furnaces.
The meeting, known as COP24 in UN jargon, is being sponsored by two power-generating companies and Europe’s biggest producer of coking coal. The venue for the Dec. 2-14 conference sits on the site of an old coal mine, and its design was inspired by mining culture: The predominant color inside and out is anthracite, and the hallways and meeting rooms have irregular angles meant to resemble mineshafts.
And just a 15-minute drive to the south is the Wujek mine, the site of violent strikes during the Solidarity protests against communism, which has been churning out coal since 1899. “It’s like hosting a culinary conference at a venue that serves frozen pizza,” says Lauri Myllyvirta, a Greenpeace air pollution analyst.
For the rest of this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-02/the-cop24-climate-summit-comes-to-poland-s-coal-capital-katowice