ENVIRONMENT

UN to hold 2018 climate meeting in heavily polluted Katowice

The United Nations announced Thursday that it will hold its 2018 Climate Change Conference in Katowice, a Polish city in the heart of a coal-producing region that is one of the most polluted areas in all of Europe.

Environmentalists welcomed the decision and said they hope it will inspire the development of renewable energy in an area whose economy is dependent on coal and heavy industry.

Ilona Jedrasik, a Warsaw-based spokeswoman for environmental group ClientEarth, said she hopes "it will give a strong signal to the local community that our economy needs transformation to one based on low emissions technology and green energy."

There are actually many local initiatives to develop green energy that are little-known and which should be encouraged, she said.

"Those in the coal industry know we need to do this but don't get any direction from the government to make the transition," she said.

The choice of Katowice was announced Thursday during a meeting in Tuczno, Poland, between Polish Environment Minister Jan Szysko and Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Espinosa said that 2018 will be an "important year for international climate diplomacy as nations move forward to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement."

Poland also hosted such conferences in 2008 in Poznan and in 2013 in Warsaw, and presided over a meeting in Bonn in 1999.