COP24: 'We can't afford to fail in Katowice,' says UN's Guterres

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British public broadcaster BBC reported that the natural historian, who has collaborated with the BBC extensively in making nature documentaries, said from stage: "If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon".

The veteran naturalist and TV presenter, whose most recent series, Blue Planet II, focused on the destruction of the oceans by pollution, called on the world's leaders to actually lead in the battle against man-made climate change.

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

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who issued a dramatic appeal to governments Monday to confront the threat of unchecked climate change, said he hopes the event in Poland will serve as a stepping stone for a meeting of leaders he is convening on the sidelines of next year's General Assembly.

Waskow, who has followed climate talks for years, said despite the Trump administration's refusal to back this global effort the momentum is going in the right direction.

At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump has regularly denied the existence of climate change and its links to humanity.

Even the most strident climate warnings - spiralling temperatures, global sea-level rises, mass crop failures - are something that many developed nations will only have to tackle in future.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the 20 warmest years ever recorded were in the past 22 years.

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Delegates were played a montage of messages collected from people around the world.

Guterres called climate change as "the most important issue we face".

As the video ended, Attenborough took up their cry.

But Fiji's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama said any "just transition" should consider the fate of all the people around the world whose lives are affected by climate change. 2018 is the year the countries committed to putting a plan in place for carrying out the agreement, so time is running out.

The talks in Katowice have been billed as the most important United Nations conference since the landmark Paris accord as they precede an end-of-year deadline to agree a "rule book" on how to enforce action to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

"We must fight the causes, but also adapt to the consequences that are often most dramatic for the world's poorest people", said World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, as leaders flagged rising needs at United Nations climate talks in Poland.

He said developed states had a "collective responsibility to assist the most vulnerable communities and countries -- such as small island nations and the least developed countries -- by supporting adaptation and resilience". "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.

The conference, which is being held in the heart of coal country, brought together green activists, scientists, government officials, and heads of state. 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".

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