Collapse of civilisations on the horizon without climate action

TV presenter and national treasure David Attenborough has issued a stark warning to the world about the risks of climate change. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony of an international summit on climate change, Sir David  warned civilisation collapse and extinction of much of the natural world is ‘on the horizon’. 

He urged action against global warming and called it a man-made disaster that poses ‘our greatest threat in thousands of years’. 

He was speaking in Katowice, Poland, calling for leaders and decision-makers to take charge on driving down greenhouse gas emissions.

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TV presenter and national treasure David Attenborough has issued a stark warning to the world about the risks of climate change

TV presenter and national treasure David Attenborough has issued a stark warning to the world about the risks of climate change

TV presenter and national treasure David Attenborough has issued a stark warning to the world about the risks of climate change

Sir David was speaking on behalf of the UN’s ‘People’s Seat’ initiative to give ordinary people a voice at the international talks by gathering their thoughts, ideas and concerns through social media and polling in the past two weeks.

He said the world is facing its ‘greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change’.

‘If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.’

And he said: ‘The world’s people have spoken, their message is clear, time is running out, they want you, the decision-makers, to act now.

Sir David urged action against global warming and called it a man-made disaster that poses 'our greatest threat in thousands of years'

Sir David urged action against global warming and called it a man-made disaster that poses 'our greatest threat in thousands of years'

Sir David urged action against global warming and called it a man-made disaster that poses ‘our greatest threat in thousands of years’

Sir David was speaking on behalf of the UN's 'People's Seat' initiative to give ordinary people a voice at the international talks by gathering their thoughts, ideas and concerns through social media and polling in the past two weeks

Sir David was speaking on behalf of the UN's 'People's Seat' initiative to give ordinary people a voice at the international talks by gathering their thoughts, ideas and concerns through social media and polling in the past two weeks

Sir David was speaking on behalf of the UN’s ‘People’s Seat’ initiative to give ordinary people a voice at the international talks by gathering their thoughts, ideas and concerns through social media and polling in the past two weeks

‘They’re supporting you in making tough decisions but they’re also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives.’

The UN has launched an ‘ActNow.bot’ which helps people discover simple everyday actions they can take to tackle climate change.

Sir David said: ‘The people have spoken: leaders of the world, you must lead, the continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend are in your hands.’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned negotiators at the meeting that the world was ‘in deep trouble’ with climate change.

‘Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later, before it’s too late.

‘For many people, regions and even countries, this is already a matter of life and death.’

He also said that ‘climate action is not just the right thing to do, it makes social and economic sense’, pointing to how action to cut emissions will curb air pollution deaths and generate millions of jobs and trillions of dollars.

The speeches come after four former presidents of the annual UN climate talks warned the ‘world is at a crossroads’ and decisive action in the next two years would be crucial to tackle the threat of climate change.

Pictured is a graph showing how much warmer surface air temperatures have been between January and October this year. The greatest increases were seen in the Arctic and Europe (circled). Sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Tropical Pacific  (circled) were cooler than usual, showing signs of a return to El Niño conditions

Pictured is a graph showing how much warmer surface air temperatures have been between January and October this year. The greatest increases were seen in the Arctic and Europe (circled). Sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Tropical Pacific  (circled) were cooler than usual, showing signs of a return to El Niño conditions

Pictured is a graph showing how much warmer surface air temperatures have been between January and October this year. The greatest increases were seen in the Arctic and Europe (circled). Sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Tropical Pacific  (circled) were cooler than usual, showing signs of a return to El Niño conditions

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.

‘We require deep transformations of our economies and societies to build a better world for all. This must be powered by multilateral co-operation.’

They called for ambitious decisions which are sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to enable the effective operation of the Paris Agreement, secured three years ago in the French capital to curb global warming.

A process to enable countries to announce efforts by 2020 to ramp up their domestic ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions must be launched, they said, as current efforts are not enough to prevent dangerous temperature rises.

And there needs to be progress on the goal of mobilising 100 billion US dollars (£78 billion) a year for poorer countries to drive clean growth, they urged.

The World Bank has announced it is doubling investments in climate action with 200 billion US dollars (£157 billion) for 2021-2025, including 50 billion US dollars (£39 billion) towards helping countries adapt to the impacts of global warming.

Negotiators at the talks will hear details of a global review on climate change-tackling efforts, and the pressure is on to work towards increasing commitments from countries by 2020.

The talks in Poland also aim to draw up the rulebook for making the Paris deal operational, and poorer countries will be looking for a boost to the finance being made available to help them develop cleanly.

WHAT IS THE PARIS AGREEMENT? 

The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions.

In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention for the US, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, to withdraw from the agreement.  

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Goverments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries

4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science

Source: European Commission 

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