David Attenborough: Civilisation is on the brink of collapse

UN conference on climate change opens

The world is now on course to overshoot by far the limits for global warming agreed in the landmark 2015 Paris accord on climate change, which were meant to prevent more extreme weather, rising sea levels and the loss of plant and animal species.

"Developed nations led by the U.S. will want to ignore their historic responsibilities and will say the world has changed", said Meena Ramam, from the Third World Network advocacy group.

The comments came at the beginning of a two-week climate conference in Katowice, Poland, where emissaries from almost 200 nations are meeting to determine how the world can dramatically scale back greenhouse gas emissions to abide by the landmark Paris climate agreement and, by doing so, stave off the worst effects of climate change.

"The UN provides a unique platform that can unite the whole world and as the Paris agreement proved, we can make real change happen", Mr Attenborough said. One of the most notable being an agreement by 19 nations (the United States is the only one that didn't sign on) to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement and "continue to tackle climate change while promoting sustainable development and economic growth".

Such cuts, which experts say is the only way to achieve the 1.5-degree goal, would require a radical overhaul of the global economy and a move away from using fossil fuels.

"In short, we need a complete transformation of our global energy economy, as well as how we manage land and forest resources", said Guterres.

Guterres asked governments to find ways to replace fossil fuels - which contribute about 65 per cent of global greenhouse gases, according to the EPA - with cleaner alternatives.

The remark was also directed at host Poland, which relies on coal for 80 per cent of its energy.

A goal of the two-week conference in Poland's southern coal mining region of Silesia is finalizing how governments report on their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming within the limits of the Paris climate deal.

Mohamed Adow, climate lead for the Christian Aid charity, said richer nations needed to stump up the cash to allow developing countries to make the leap to renewables. Simply put, three years after Paris, the world has few reasons for optimism - and this is why COP24 is so crucial.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal past year, stating his opinion that it was "an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries". Schwarzenegger said he wished he could travel back in time - like the cyborg he portrayed in "The Terminator" - to stop fossil fuels from being used. He told delegates on Monday that "America is more than just Washington or one leader".

The United States, meanwhile, reiterated at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday its decision to withdraw from the Paris accord and Its commitment to all energy sources.

Attenborough, known for hosting nature broadcasts including the popular BBC series "Planet Earth", was chosen for the UN's "people's seat", representing those populations most affected by climate change.

Residents of the world's smaller islands, many of whom face catastrophic flooding from higher sea levels in a warming world, have been among the world's most vocal backers of measures to combat climate change.

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