Climate Change Is The 'Most Important Issue We Face — UN Chief

Antonio Guterres United Nations Secretary-General delivers a speech during the opening of the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice Poland

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With the direst environmental warnings yet still ringing in their ears, nations gathered in Poland Sunday for a UN summit aimed at heading off the "urgent threat" of runaway climate change.

Meanwhile, the presidents of at-risk states such as Fiji, Nigeria and Nepal are expected at COP24 talks, which aim to flesh out the promises agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord. Now elected leaders, governments, and powerful interests must do the same.

Host country Poland is expected to propose what it calls a "just transition" for the oil, gas, and coal industries to ease the financial blow from the move away from such polluting sources of energy. Some also have questioned why coal companies are among the meeting's sponsors.

Organisers said on their website that they were taking to the streets of Brussels to claim their "right to an ambitious and socially just climate policy".

And there needs to be progress on the goal of mobilising $100bn (€88bn) a year for poorer countries to drive clean growth, they urged.

Nations must triple efforts to achieve Paris climate goals: Study

At the opening of the summit on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world faced a stark choice between life and death. "There is no Plan B".

At the conference in Poland, Attenborough said the United Nations provides a "unique platform" for uniting the world. North Africa suffers from floods and other effects of climate change.

The meeting received a boost over the weekend, after 19 major economies at the G-20 summit affirmed their commitment to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

President Trump last week said he "doesn't believe" his own administration's report on the economic impact of climate change, which projected a hit in the hundreds of billions of dollars thanks to climate change.

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.

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She cited a recent expert report warning of the consequences of letting average global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).

"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".

The World Bank has also announced a doubling of its climate fund, promising $200bn in funding over five years to support countries taking action against climate change.

"Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption", Guterres told delegates from nearly 200 countries on the second day of talks.

"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.

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"It's not one or two players anymore in the worldwide arena", he said.

Not far from the meeting venue, Polish anticoal activists held a small protest on Sunday.

Current pledges, even if implemented, would likely see warming closer to three degrees, resulting in worsening climate extremes including the demise of the great bulk of the world's coral reefs. "As a outcome, 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.

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