Sir David Attenborough calls for 'urgent' climate change action

Olive Hawkins
December 4, 2018

Sir David Attenborough says the "collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon" if no urgent action is taking against global warming.

"In short, we need a complete transformation of our global energy economy", said Antonio Guterres.

The talks in Katowice - at heart of Poland's coal region - precede an end-of-year deadline to produce a "rule book" to flesh out the broad details that were agreed in Paris on limiting the rise in global temperatures to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Net zero emissions mean any greenhouse gases emitted need to be soaked up by forest or new technologies that can remove carbon from the atmosphere.

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.

Ministers and some heads of government are to join Monday, when host Poland will push for a joint declaration on ensuring a "just transition" for fossil fuel industries facing closure as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"It is sad that the federal administration of the United States, a country that is increasingly feeling the full force of climate impacts, continues to refuse to listen to the objective voice of science".

What are you doing to save our planet? Poland is heavily dependent on coal, which accounts for some 80 percent of all the nation's energy, the Associated Press noted. But Poland's President Andrzej Duda told a later news conference that the coal-rich country will never entirely give up its "strategic fossil fuel".

Delegates from almost 200 countries now have two weeks of negotiations to finalize how those goals work in practice, even as science suggests the pace of climate change is rapidly outstripping mankind's response.

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COP24 comes on the heels of the G-20 gathering in Argentina, where 19 of the 20 leaders signed a communique reaffirming their commitment to fight global warming, but President Donald Trump insisted on a paragraph outlining his opposition and the United States decision, under his administration, to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement.

To reach this goal, emissions must be halved from 2010 levels by 2030, Guterres said.

Even solid progress on the Paris goals may not be enough to prevent runaway global warming, as a series of major climate reports have outlined.

Guterres called for a "huge increase in ambitions" during the negotiations in Poland, adding "we can not afford to fail in Katowice".

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.

"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.

Bank vice president Amadou Hott is leading a delegation of climate change experts in various fields - including water and sanitation, transport, urbanisation and sustainable cities - who will shed light on the diversity and complexity of the issues raised 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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