This article reviews some of the developments that occurred during the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Katowice, Poland. It looks at the outcome and goes on to examine some of the concerns and challenges that remain.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

World issues, environmental studies, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What was the outcome of the conference?
  • What did it fail to accomplish?
  • Who were the blockers of efforts to further address climate change?
  • When will they next meet?
  • What is the desired outcome?

New Terminology:

IPCC, Paris climate treaty

Materials Needed:

  • Copies of the article for the students
  • Internet access if possible
Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference was completed in Katowice, Poland. The essential outcome was that there was an agreement on rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate treaty, but also the delaying of new commitments for more aggressive action to reduce GHG emissions until next September in New York. The New York meeting will essentially be a political one with the true work being done in Chile at the COP conference in 2019. Once again, during the conference, there was blocking by nations such as the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil but essential progress was made with outstanding issues to be addressed next year. These international efforts are crucial given the IPCC report from October 2018. (see a summary at It is important for students to understand what efforts are being made internationally to address this challenge so they can keep federal and provincial activities in context. This lesson will have the students, through friendly group competition, come to understand these developments and what lies ahead.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to identify what important conference was just completed in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.
  • Ensure that they understand that it was the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
  • Ask them if they can explain the two major developments that came out of that conference – an agreement on rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate treaty and the delaying of new commitments for more aggressive action to reduce GHG emissions until next September in New York.
  • With this as background, inform the students that they are going to engage in a group competition based on an article that they will be given.
  • Divide the class into five groups and provide them with a copy of the article.
  • They are to read and prepare for the competition by learning as much as they can from the article (and any Internet research they might do if this access is available).
  • Explain to the students that they are going to engage in a game called “Pass the Mike” and outline the following rules to the game.

How the game is played.

Below the teacher will find a list of questions and new terms which will not be presented to the students until the start of the game. To begin the game, the teacher will take a handheld instrument which we will call “the mike” and give it to one of the groups. When doing so, the teacher will indicate which term or question that group must explain. The group will then pick a member who must go to the front of the room and give as complete an answer as possible. The teacher will award a mark out of five for the answer and, if there is missing or incorrect information that can be added or corrected by another group, that group will be awarded a bonus point. Once that term or question has been completed the person holding the mike will determine the next term or question that is to be addressed and hand the mike to another group of his or her choosing. Once a student has held the mike once they are not eligible to hold it again. The selected group must pick a member and follow the pattern. This will continue until all terms have been explained and all questions have been answered. Each group must have the same number of opportunities as each of the other groups. The group with the greatest number of points wins.

  • Here are the terms and questions:
    • What is the IPCC?
    • What did its report in October 2018 stress?
    • Under current national commitments what is the likely increase in global warming by 2100 and how does this compare to the warning from the IPCC?
    • Who blocked the adoption of this report and why do you think they did that?
    • What is the target reduction set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement?
    • What meeting is scheduled for New York in 2019 and what type of meeting is it? What is the goal of this meeting?
    • What is COP and when and where do they next meet?
    • What is the goal of the next COP meeting and, based on your knowledge of climate change actions by various governments, do you think they will accomplish their goal?
    • Who blocked Canada’s efforts to get rules established for trading market-based emissions credits and why do you think they did that?
    • Who made a presentation at the conference on the benefits of fossil fuels and why would they do that?

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have the students complete the competition.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Explain the terms IPCC and COP and their importance.
  • Outline the outcomes of the recent conference in Poland
  • Explain the urgency as identified in the IPCC report of October 2018
  • Identify the countries which continue to drag their feet and explain the likely reasons.

Confirming Activity:

  • Hold a plenary session during which the students can discuss the details of what they have just learned and offer ideas and concerns about future efforts and events.