Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

David Attenborough's Dire Climate Warning: ‘Our Greatest Threat In Thousands Of Years'

David Attenborough's Dire Climate Warning: ‘Our Greatest Threat In Thousands Of Years'

That is the most ambitious goal set in the 2015 Paris agreement, which negotiators from almost 200 countries have come to Katowice to finalize.

According to Guterres, climate change is already a matter of life and death for many people, nations and countries of the world, as the science is telling us we need to move faster.

Representatives of some of the most powerful countries and biggest polluters will be conspicuous by their absence as the United States has said it is leaving the U.N. process and China was not expected to send its top politicians.

And even as Attenborough assured world leaders that the people of Earth support "tough decisions" and are "willing to make sacrifices" to fight climate change, violent protests on the streets of Paris have sounded a different note. The country's supply of coal can last another 200 years.

This is far from a given: the dust is still settling from US President Donald Trump's decision to ditch the Paris accord.

A group of over 90 independent climate scientists said in October that fossil fuel use must be slashed by half in the next 12 years to have any hope of hitting the 1.5 deg C target.

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Elsewhere in Katowice, a US campaign group called the Heartland Institute held a meeting criticizing the widespread consensus among scientists that global warming is a man-made phenomenon.

But many other countries are already dealing with the droughts, higher seas and catastrophic storms climate change is exacerbating right now.

Meanwhile, the presidents of at-risk states such as Fiji, Nigeria and Nepal are expected at COP24 talks, which aim to flesh out the promises agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Sir David Attenborough speaking at to delegates at the United Nations climate change summit in Poland.

Delegates said that one of the trickiest issues could be monitoring emissions as the U.S., which cannot quit the pact until 2020, uses the talks to press for a level of detail it perceives as useful to its foreign policy dealings.

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

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The meeting, which is being held from December 3 to 14, is taking place amidst calls for world leaders to implement norms to curb the rising carbon dioxide levels and maintain temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. About 10 people attended the event, where speakers claimed that temperature increases recorded in recent decades are largely due to increased activity from the sun.

"These talks have been embroiled with blame game and had largely shifted away from the main goal of the convention and the Paris Agreement, which is people and planet", Singh said in an interview.

The World Bank has announced it is doubling investments in climate action with $200bn (€176bn) for 2021-2025, including $50bn (€44bn) towards helping countries adapt to the impacts of global warming. Poland's President Duda told reporters that his country, which relies on coal for 80 per cent of its energy, would work to reduce its reliance on coal but never entirely give up its "strategic fossil fuel".

"Or, God forbid, [we] ignore the irrefutable evidence and become the generation that betrayed humanity", Bainimarama said.

"Katowice may show us if there will be any domino effect" following the USA withdrawal, said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and a main architect of the Paris deal. "So I think it is perfectly normal that his Holiness the Pope, not only this Pope, it comes from the past, have a very positive position in relation to climate action", he said.

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