United Nations chief: Climate change is 'most important issue we face'

Katie Ramirez
December 5, 2018

Negotiators from around the world are meeting in Poland for talks on curbing climate change, three years after sealing a landmark deal in Paris that set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Naturalist and TV legend Sir David Attenborough has sent a dramatic message about the impact of climate change on the world, insisting there is now a pressing need to stand together to solve the growing issue, as he spoke at the recent UN Climate Change conference.

He said: "The world's people have spoken".

According to SBS, the Katowice conference is the most important United Nations event since the Paris Accord in 2015 - the conditions of which were created to prevent further climate disaster, and which we're on track to drastically overshoot.

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.

Such cuts, which experts say are the only way to achieve the 1.5-degree goal, would require a radical overhaul of the global economy and a move away from using fossil fuels.

"We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos", he said.

Guterres asked governments to find ways to replace fossil fuels - which contribute about 65 per cent of global greenhouse gases, according to the EPA - with cleaner alternatives.

The host nation Poland remains committed to coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels, calling for a "just transition" to allow communities dependent on fossil fuel help in changing their lifestyle.

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To maximise the chances of success in Poland, technical talks began on Sunday, a day early, with delegates from almost 200 nations debating how to meet the Paris target of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and, ideally, aim for a safer 1.5 deg C, which would limit the damage from weather extremes and rising sea levels.

"We need serious solutions from serious leaders, not unsafe schemes and political tricks aimed to keep big polluters polluting", she said. Simply put, three years after Paris, the world has few reasons for optimism - and this is why COP24 is so crucial.

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

Schwarzenegger said he wished he could travel back in time, like the cyborg he played in his film The Terminator, so he could stop fossil fuels from being used.

He also told delegates, "America is more than just Washington or one leader".

The Trump administration's withdrawal from the Paris agreement - though not yet in effect - has left a leadership void that others are scrambling to fill and expanded the opportunity for China to shape global policy.

The 92-year-old took to the stage in Poland on Monday claiming climate change can no longer be ignored and that time is running out to save the world and its people.

"Climate change is running faster than we are, and we must catch up sooner rather than later, before it is too late", U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, said at the beginning of the event.

To this end, the bank plans to pursue its advocacy work in helping African countries address climate change and begin their transition towards green growth and low-carbon development.

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