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United Nations chief says world is 'way off course' on climate change

07 December 2018

COP24, the UN's annual climate summit, kicked off in Katowice, Poland.

Just this week, the UN's environment programme said the voluntary national contributions agreed in Paris would have to triple if the world was to cap global warming below 2C. "We are already seeing increased impacts of climate change in China", says a young woman.

The report, released ahead of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), shows global emissions have reached historic levels at 53.5 GtCO2e (gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide), with no signs of peaking.

The road to a final rulebook is far from smooth: the dust is still settling from US President Donald Trump's decision to ditch the Paris accord.

In an earlier speech Monday, British naturalist Sir David Attenborough echoed Guterres' warnings, telling the gathering that the "collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizons" if no urgent action is taking against global warming.

But wealthy states, led by the USA, have so far resisted calls to be more transparent in how their contributions are reported-something developing nations say is vital to form ambitious green energy plans. "Be ambitious, but also responsible for the future generations". On Climate Finance, a key issue for the LDC Group, Mr. Endalew emphasised that the Paris Agreement could not be implemented without funds for developing countries to take action.

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By contrast, action film star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger drew crowds and applause at the U.N. conference Monday for insisting that many in the United States remain committed to the agreement.

The 2015 agreement set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century.

"These guidelines need to push countries to immediately cut emissions to achieve the 1.5°C temperature goal and to deal with growing climate impacts". Some are on track, others aren't.

"It's clear that the warming trend can only be explained by the response of the climate to more greenhouse gas emissions and their accumulation in the atmosphere", said Masson-Delmotte. "As a effect, access to water, food, the conditions for stability, peace and prosperity are more than ever under threat; and if the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is extremely unlikely that the 2°C temperature goal, let alone the 1.5°C, can still be reached", they warned.

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

Signatories to the landmark 2015 Paris Accord pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius by 2030.

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Host-nation president Andrzej Duda said Poland, which relies on coal for about 80 per cent of the nation's energy, has no plan to give up coal entirely and that the country's use of it doesn't get in the way with fighting climate change.

Polish group Action Democracy said on Sunday that its supporters were protesting Poland's continued reliance on coal, a particularly dirty fossil fuel.

German officials had hoped to present a blueprint for the country's exit from coal at the December 2-14 meeting, but an expert committee postponed issuing its recommendations until next year.

And researchers have also found that climate change is contributing to the destruction of some of the world's most vulnerable natural habitats and is compounding natural disasters, like hurricanes, by increasing rainfall.

"For some people, this is a life-or-death situation without a doubt", said Natalie Mahowald, a Cornell University climate scientist and lead author of the IPCC report.

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United Nations chief says world is 'way off course' on climate change