[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]
What actually happened at COP24 besides the negotiations between parties? The answer is: countless side events and press conferences. Since most of the negotiation process at the second week was not open for observers like me, I spent my time visiting pavilions from countries, banking institutions and transnational organizations like the EU. Those pavilions remind me of the world’s biggest book exhibition in Frankfurt or the tourism industry exhibition in Berlin, which is also held every year. Almost every pavilion was built in a sophisticated way, not simply a square box with chairs and desks. Most of them were well designed with huge LCD walls, meeting rooms, professional light and sound system equipment, private media center and even luxury kitchens. Do they really need all of that to inform the world what each of them is doing to mitigate climate change? What will happen to those pavilions after the COP? I cannot imagine how much total carbon and waste all those pavilions produced during COP.
In every pavilion I visited, I looked for events related to communication aspects of climate change. How do those countries or organizations communicate climate change to the public? With what media are they reaching out to the people and are their communication effort successful? It turned out to be a long journey to find such events. From all of the pavilions I visited, almost all of them answered my question of if there will be events related to climate change communication with “no”. A delegation from Brazil even answered me with: “no, …we don’t do communication, just finance and technical aspects”. I smiled and walked away. I don’t think he realized that every pavilion communicates something to thousands of people who were walking through COP. Many pavilions promoted a big slogan, which I considered as a way to inform the public about what they do to mitigate or adapt to climate change. The UK pavilion used the slogan “Green is Great”, India “One World, One Sun, One Grid”, US: “We’re still in”, and China with “Climate change, let’s act now”.
After more than two hours walking through pavilions, I found two countries that offered side events on communication aspects of climate change: Turkey and Russia. Both presented journalists as speakers talking about how to write and speak about climate change and environment. It was a surprise for me. A good surprise.