In Katowice, Poland, at COP24, almost 200 nations of the world, represented by 28,000 participants, set common standards to measure climate change. This is one of very few such achievements in history. When transcontinental rail systems were first built, Canadian Pacific Railway surveying engineer Sandford Fleming proposed a set of world standards for time zones; the International Meridian Conference (1884) in Washington, DC set global standards to measure longitude, establishing the Greenwich Meridian. That’s why your phone can tell you what time it is in Boston, even when you’re in Bangkok. Fleming would agree that getting the whole world on one shared measurement system is no small feat; we haven’t even yet transitioned to a global metric system.
Katowice will be remembered for establishing a scale to weigh in on climate. According to Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete: “We have a system of transparency, we have a system of reporting, we have rules to measure our emissions, we have a system to measure the impacts of our policies compared to what science recommends.” (McGrath, 2018)
At COP24, many things were agreed; some still to be fully realized. On the present emissions course, the world will warm to 3C triggering disastrous change. By 2020, we have to get on track. There are those who wanted a touchdown in Poland but had to take a field goal, until the next meeting in Chile November 2019 (with a pre-COP25 meeting in Costa Rica). Until then, Katowice made history. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know the importance of the weigh-in; only consistent measurement can determine the biggest loser. The world just got a scale.
Katowice Agreement COP24: https://unfcc.int/sites/default/files/resource/Katowice%20text%2C%2014%20Dec2018_1015AM.pdf
McGrath, M. “Climate change: Five things – COP24.” 16 December 2018. BBC Environment.
United Nations. “I.3. (c) “Modalities, work programme and functions under the Paris Agreement of the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures (L-document), Katowice Texts, 2018.
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Lice