David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon

David AttenboroughDavid Attenborough, who hopefully needs no introduction, has been speaking at day 1 of COP24, the UN Climate Change conference …

“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years.Climate Change.

If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

This is not a dramatic exaggeration, but instead is the literal scientific truth. The term “Alarmist” is often deployed to dismiss this stance by right-wing extremists who also tend to be utterly out of touch with both the science and reality, and are often simply parroting oil and gas funded right-wing rhetoric.

As part of his talk he also launched a new campaign that is enabling individuals the world over to unite in actions to battle climate change.

“In the last two weeks,” he said, “the world’s people have taken part in creating this address, answering polls, creating videos and voicing their opinions.”

“They want you – the decision makers – to act now,” the British broadcaster said, addressing the politicians and officials assembled for two weeks in this Polish mining town to negotiate next steps in monitoring and mitigating climate change.

Here are some of the voices of the people speaking directly to the decision makers at the opening of COP24, the UNFCCC conference that is taking place right now in Poland…

What else has been happening at COP24?

Dec 2 – Rapid Action Urged as Key UN Climate Change Conference Opens

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) opens today with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The guidelines will provide clarity on how to implement the landmark agreement fairly and transparently for all.

Specifically, they will strengthen international cooperation by ensuring that national contributions to the global effort are transparent, responsibility is shared fairly and progress on reducing emissions and building resilience can be accurately measured.

Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s Climate Chief, said: “This year is likely to be one of the four hottest years on record. Greenhouses gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and emissions continue to rise. Climate change impacts have never been worse. This reality is telling us that we need to do much more – COP24 needs to make that happen”.

Dec 3 – UN Chief: Our Job in Katowice is to Finalize the Paris Agreement Work Programme

… We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change.

Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late.

For many, people, regions even countries this is already a matter of life and death.

This meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed.

It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation.

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.

Nor are we doing enough to capitalize on the enormous social, economic and environmental opportunities of climate action.

And so, I want to deliver four simple messages.

First: science demands a significantly more ambitious response.

Second: the Paris Agreement provides the framework for action, so we must operationalize it.

Third: we have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos, to consolidate the financial commitments made in Paris and to assist the most vulnerable communities and nations.

Fourth: climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better.

How Green is this conference?

There will be calls by delegates attending the conference for radical change, a demand that we need to strive to be carbon neutral. In that context you are also perhaps tempted to step back and wonder just how well the conference itself is doing within that arena.

It turns out that they are in fact doing rather well. The conference has been setup to be entirely climate neutral, with the priority of the organizers being to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the greatest possible extent.

“To reduce the overall climate footprint of the event, a series of measures have been arranged in areas such as waste management and paper reduction”, says Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Counsellor to the Minister and Head of the Ozone Layer Protection Team, Plenipotentiary for Environmental Management in the Ministry of the Environment of Poland.

To be specific, they have attempted to address the following

  • Sustainable transportation – Public transport is free for delegates, “You are going by bus”
  • Reporting and offsetting of unavoidable GHG emissions – trees will be planted to offset emissions
  • Strict Waste management – goes right down to the detail of giving delegates reusable water bottles
  • Reusable materials – backdrops and wall elements made from reusable materials
  • Paperlight conference – official documents will be digital
  • Virtual Participation – live broadcast of all official side events. More information on virtual participation options can be found here.


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