Civilisations and natural world on brink of collapse, David Attenborough warns

World urged to tackle 'urgent threats' as UN climate talks begin

Natural historian David Attenborough listens to speeches during the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland, on Monday.

Stating that we "are extremely concerned about the climate crisis" Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama issued a joint statement, together with three other former COP Presidents, last night calling on countries to send an unequivocal message from COP24 in Katowice, Poland, that they are serious about strengthening their commitments to reduce emissions and help build resilience.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the COP24 United Nations climate conference, in Katowice, Poland, Attenborough called climate change "our greatest threat in thousands of years".

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

Attenborough, 92, was representing the people of Earth as holder of the "people's seat" at the conference.

To inject momentum, the World Bank Group on Monday said it would provide a further US$200 billion over five years from the start of the next decade. "Time is running out", he said.

Guterres called on representatives to cement funding agreements, allowing the global community to take firm steps towards green solutions, suggesting the world was "nowhere near where it needs to be" on moving to a low-carbon economy.

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). "I think conservationists have to be careful in saying things are catastrophic when, in fact, they are less than catastrophic", he told The Independent in 2006.

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"It also takes place in a scenario where we have clear signals about the urgency with which we need to address the issues of climate change". "That's not my expertise".

The British environmental website Carbon Brief attributed Attenborough's change in perspective to a lecture by American scientist Ralph Cicerone in 2004, in which Cicerone showed graphs of world temperature, global population and the make-up of the atmosphere. "Our greatest threat in thousands of years: Climate change".

"Societies need to adapt, they need to understand, otherwise we will be in deep trouble, what is at stake now is the very survival of human kind and of the planet", she told AFP.

At the conference in Poland, Attenborough said the United Nations provides a "unique platform" for uniting the world.

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. The United States is the only country, not part of the accord after President Donald Trump made a decision to walk away from it.

Duda, the Polish leader, said participants at the conference have backed its proposal of a "just transition" away from coal mining, which calls for helping those people, like coal miners, who are slated to lose their jobs as the world changes its energy mix.

The "yellow vest" demonstrations, which have grown into riots across France, are motivated by objections to a new tax on gasoline set to go into effect in January.

He said governments should embrace the opportunities rather than cling to fossil fuels such as coal, which are blamed for a significant share of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

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