Collapse of civilisations on the horizon without climate action - Attenborough

Tackling climate change could save millions of lives, report says

Renowned English broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough delivered a stark warning about the future of our planet during the UN Climate Change Summit in Poland.

From glaciers melting in Nepal to the rising seas threatening to engulf small island states, the world is already experiencing the damage lying in wait if global warming runs unchecked.

Negotiators from around the world opened the United Nations' annual climate change conference Sunday in a Polish city built around mining coal, widely seen as a main culprit behind global warming.

"Nepal is a country comprised of mountains and plains", president Bidhya Devi Bhandari told delegates. President Donald Trump has announced Washington's withdrawal from the Paris accord, saying it's a bad deal for Americans, and repeatedly questioned the science behind climate change. The 2015 agreement set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century. And climate change is responsible for shaving off 1.4 points of GDP in Africa every year.

"We need serious solutions from serious leaders, not risky schemes and political tricks aimed to keep big polluters polluting", she said. "It is incumbent on the worldwide community to ensure that justice is done". "They want you, the decision-makers, to act now".

Not a single G20 nation sent a top-level representative to the COP on Monday. The four warmest have been the past four years.

In October a team of more than 90 independent scientists said mankind must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by half within the next 12 years to avoid heat rises that could tear at the fabric of society.

Of the 10 countries in the world considered most threatened by climate change, seven are in Africa - Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.

As part of the initiative, people were asked to speak up on climate change using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat.

Some of the nations most at risk from climate change will have the chance Monday to plead the case for immediate action.

Ministers and some heads of government plan to join the discussion tomorrowy, when host Poland is expected to push for a declaration ensuring a "just transition" for fossil fuel industries that face cuts and closures amid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN negotiations got off to a chaotic start in the Polish mining city of Katowice Sunday, with the opening session delayed almost three hours by a series of last-ditch submissions. Events will include several conferences and daily roundtables throughout the two-week event.

"I wish that I could be The Terminator in real life to be able to travel back in time and to stop all fossil fuels when they were discovered", said the former movie tough guy.

The message from 'The People's Seat' at the United Nation's COP24 climate summit in Katowice, Poland on Monday-presented by the octogenarian British naturalist Sir David Attenborough-was as succinct and simple as it was profound and terrifying: "If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon".

In a joint statement, France's Laurent Fabius, Frank Bainimarama from Fiji, Salaheddine Mezouar from Morocco, and Peru's Manuel Pulgar Vidal said: "The challenges are there, as are the solutions".

"Or, God forbid, (we) ignore the irrefutable evidence and become the generation that betrayed humanity", he said.

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