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United Nations chief issues dramatic climate appeal to world leaders

05 December 2018

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 aim of the two-week summit is to build on the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord which focused on strengthening the global response to the threat that climate change poses to the planet.

The U.N. chief opened the climate summit in Poland with a dire warning to world leaders.

"The UN provides a unique platform that can unite the whole world and as the Paris agreement proved, we can make real change happen", Mr Attenborough said.

The UN said the extent of climate action must be increased fivefold to limit global warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius urged by scientists.

Such cuts, which experts say is 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.

"In short, we need a complete transformation of our global energy economy, as well as how we manage land and forest resources, " Guterres said.

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

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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.

In a joint statement, France's Laurent Fabius, Frank Bainimarama from Fiji, Salaheddine Mezouar from Morocco, and Peru's Manuel Pulgar Vidal said: "The challenges are there, as are the solutions". At the top of the agenda is the so-called Paris rulebook, which determines how countries have to count their greenhouse gas emissions, report them to the rest of the world and reveal what they are doing to reduce them. "We need more action and more ambition", Guterres said.

If you're shaking your head that President Trump still isn't on board with the accord, know that the U.S.at least agreed to sign on to a measure to support clean energy initiatives that reads, "We recognize the crucial role of energy in helping shape our shared future, and we encourage energy transitions that combine growth with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions toward cleaner, more flexible and transparent systems, and cooperation in energy efficiency". Schwarzenegger said he wished he could travel back in time - like the cyborg he portrayed in "The Terminator" - to stop fossil fuels from being used.

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

FILE - President Donald Trump stands next to the podium after speaking about the USA role in the Paris climate change accord in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2017.

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.

Fiji's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, who presided over last year's United Nations climate summit, said the "just transition" proposal should not just consider the fate of fossil-fuel workers but all people around the world whose lives were affected by climate change.

United Nations chief issues dramatic climate appeal to world leaders