From COP 24 in Katowice: Opening Thoughts: Traveling to COP 24

COP 24—A&WMA President-Elect, Michele Gehring, arrives in Poland to take in the second week of activities at the COP 24 meetings in Katowice.
by Michele E. Gehring

Thoughts from 30,000 Feet

Well, it's time to get my COP 24 on! Mike has done a tremendous job covering the first week of the conference and now it's my turn. He's established a great precedence for these reports – hopefully, I can live up to that example. I am certainly honored to be going on this mission for the Association and bringing back knowledge on climate change initiatives from throughout the world to our members.
As I sit here in my seat on my way across the Pond, I am gazing out the window at an incredibly gorgeous sunrise over Germany. I set down my coffee, grab my phone, and start taking some pictures. I have a bit of an obsession with cloud pictures and certainly have more on my phone than is normal for any one individual. One day, perhaps I'll publish a coffee table book. But, I digress, you didn't come here to read about my obsession with cloud pictures….back to the task at hand.
The sunrise really does fit into this story, however. As I travel to Poland to engage with environmental professionals from around the globe, the sunrise serves as a reminder. It's a reminder of why we at the Association are so passionate about environmental stewardship and education – we do have quite an amazing world to preserve. Ultimately, when you get past all of the political maneuvering that works its way into the conversation, the fundamental goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Conference of the Parties is a quite honorable and epic one – implement changes that will preserve the world in which we live without crippling the countries or industries in it. If that were an easy task, there certainly wouldn't be 30,000 people convening in Katowice to work on the problem!
I'm excited about this coming week. Personally, this is an incredible opportunity for new experiences and new adventures and one that I am tremendously thankful for. Professionally, I enter this week energized, eager to hear the various presentations, to engage with leaders in the environmental community, to extend the Association's network, and to share this amazing experience with you, our members. Stay tuned….  

About the Author: Michele E. Gehring, P.E., is President-Elect of the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA). She has been a member of A&WMA since 2001. Before being elected President, Gehring served on the Association's Board of Directors for three years, was Vice President of the Association for two consecutive years, and served as Vice-Chair of the Sections and Chapters Council. She has also served on her local Chapter and section boards since 2007. Gehring is a licensed professional engineer and principal of Coterie Environmental LLC, an environmental and engineering consulting firm specializing in combustion systems and serving clients from throughout the Continental United States. She has spent her entire career working in the combustion industry, performing engineering studies, developing compliance programs, and overseeing emissions testing initiatives.