UN Climate Change Summit kick off in Poland with boost from G20

04 December, 2018, 16:26 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Tackling climate change could save millions of lives, report says

We're facing a man-made disaster of global scale.

Speaking directly to the leaders of the world, at what is being described as the most important climate change meeting since the 2015 Paris agreement, the English broadcaster said action must be taken before it is too late.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the summit in Poland with an appeal to world leaders to take the threat of global warming seriously and to act boldly to avert a catastrophic rise in temperatures before the end of the century.

"We have been bearing the brunt of disproportionate impact of climate change despite being a low carbon-emitting country".

"We demand more ambition from our Belgian decision makers on the European and worldwide level", Climate Coalition Nicolas Van Nuffel said.

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.

Such a move, 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.

A process to enable countries to announce efforts by 2020 to ramp up their domestic ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions must be launched, they said, as current efforts are not enough to prevent risky temperature rises. Poland is heavily dependent on coal, which accounts for some 80 percent of all the nation's energy, the Associated Press noted.

The conference is called COP24 - which stands for Conference of Parties.

Guterres said climate change was already taking its toll.

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The two-week conference, in Poland's southern coal mining region of Silesia, is expected to work out how governments can report on their efforts to reduce green gas emission and keep global warming within the Paris accord limit.

Mohamed Adow, climate lead for the Christian Aid charity, said richer nations needed to donate funds to allow developing countries to make the leap to renewables.

Mr Guterres warned negotiators at the meeting that the world was "in deep trouble" with climate change.

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

"I wish that I could be The Terminator in real life to be able to travel back in time and to stop all fossil fuels when they were discovered", said the former movie tough guy.

"If we would've never started in that direction and used other technology, we'd be much better off", he told conference delegates.

The riots in Paris at the weekend, partly in protest at higher fuel taxes, also illustrate the conundrum: How do political leaders introduce policies that will do long-term good for the environment without inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election?

While the United States is withdrawing from the climate pact, the State Department said it is sending a delegation to the Katowice conference.

As part of COP24, Attenborough was speaking from the "People's Seat": an effort to give a voice to the billions of citizens who aren't in attendance at the United Nations summit - but whose continued existence on the planet depends on the decisions made over the next fortnight by the delegates invited.

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