David Attenborough: Civilisation is on the brink of collapse


Global leaders and officials are gathering for two weeks of meetings at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, to create a rulebook that will turn the 2015 Paris climate agreement into a workable reality.

The delegates of COP24 will have taken Sir Attenborough's words seriously after he called climate change, "our greatest threat in thousands of years".

Sir David Attenborough encouraged leaders of the world to take a stand and address the issue of climate change while speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland. "Their message is clear". "It's what I think you could call a distributed leadership, where you have a number of countries - some of them small or medium-sized - really making headway and doing it in tandem with cities and states and businesses".

Last week, 20 leaders responsible for 85 percent of the world's economy and two-thirds of the population gathered at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires. The world is working to implement the commitments made under the Paris Agreement but is still far off track from preventing catastrophic levels of warming.

Envoys from nearly 200 nations gathered in Poland's southern city of Katowice, a day earlier than originally planned, for the U.N. meeting that's scheduled to run until December 14.

Guterres also urged negotiators not to forget that the challenges they face pale in comparison to the difficulties climate change is already causing millions around the world whose homes and livelihoods are at risk from rising sea levels, drought and more powerful storms.

Guterres called on representatives to cement funding agreements, allowing the worldwide community to take firm steps towards green solutions, suggesting the world was "nowhere near where it needs to be" on moving to a low-carbon economy.

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The World Bank on Monday announced $200 billion in climate action investment for 2021-25 - a major shot in the arm for green initiatives but one which needs bolstering by state-provided funding. "The continuation of civilizations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands".

Marches aimed at showing support for ending the use of coal-fired power plants and other efforts to limit climate change drew thousands of people over the weekend in Brussels, Berlin and Cologne.

President Donald Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the Paris agreement because of what he says is the economic damage the treaty's provisions would cause.

"America is more than just Washington or one leader", he said, calling Trump "meshugge" - Yiddish for "crazy" - for deciding to withdraw from the Paris accord.

But scientists have observed that the human-led impact of climate change is already pretty identifiable around the world. Eighteen of the 19 warmest years on record have happened since 2000.

Elsewhere in Katowice, a USA campaign group called the Heartland Institute held a meeting criticizing the widespread consensus among scientists that global warming is a man-made phenomenon. California experienced its deadliest fire in history this month.

In his opening remarks, Guterres took aim at the countries that are most needed to be held accountable for their level of greenhouse gas emissions, failing to play by the rules set in the Paris agreement.