UN Climate Change Summit kick off in Poland with boost from G20

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"Mr Attenborough has been leading a campaign to engage ordinary people with the COP24 conference, leading a campaign called #TakeYourSeats, calling on members of the public to submit comments, questions, pictures and videos, as well as a series of global opinion polls curated in to 'the people's address" shown as part of his presentation.

"The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands", he said.

The UN chief chided countries, particularly those most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, for failing to do enough to back the 2015 Paris climate accord, which set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally 1.5 degrees C, by the end of the century.

Ironically, the climate summit is projected to have a large carbon footprint of its own which will directly contribute to the "man-made" climate change they claim is about to bring an end to "our civilizations". The United States is the only country, not part of the accord after President Donald Trump chose to walk away from it. The only holdout was the United States.

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

Michal Kurtyka, Poland's deputy environment minister and president of the talks, said that without success in Katowice, Paris would not be a success, as it had only decided what was needed, not how it could be done.

While the data are clear, a global political consensus over how to tackle climate change remains elusive. We are off-track, we will not reach 2020 with what was promised in Paris.

He nevertheless took heart from a G20 statement at the weekend when the leading industrialised nations - except the United States - reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris deal.

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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that we need to act now to combat rising temperatures.

But the human-led impact of climate change is already being observed around the world - from extreme weather to devastating fires.

"Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: Climate change", Attenborough said as the worldwide climate conference got underway with talks on how countries will implement the 2015 Paris Agreement limiting carbon emissions. "Our greatest threat in thousands of years: Climate change".

Yet expectations for Katowice are low.

Riots in Paris at the weekend, partly in protest at fuel taxes, also illustrate the conundrum: how do politicians introduce long-term environmental policies without inflicting costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election?

Guterres pleaded with countries to reduce their emissions from 2010 by 45 per cent by 2030 and to set a goal to release a net zero emissions by 2050, recalling consequences laid out in the 700-page report written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption", Guterres told delegates from nearly 200 countries who gathered in Katowice, Poland.

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