The internationally renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough says that climate change is the greatest threat to the world in thousands of years.
Fiji's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, who presided over last year's United Nations climate summit, said the "just transition" proposal shouldn't just consider the fate of fossil fuel workers but all people around the world whose lives are affected by climate change.
The congregation in Katowice, Poland, was shown a video of messages people sent, telling them about how climate change is impacting their environments.
"We, former Presidents of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, are extremely concerned about the climate crisis and join our voices to the chorus of those seeking enhanced action", they said. Their message is clear: "Time is running out", Attenborough said Monday. They want you, the decision makers, to act now.
After a string of damning scientific reports showing humanity must drastically slash its greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates at the opening of a UN climate summit: "We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough". "The continuation of civilization and the natural world on which we depend, is in your hands".
The 24th Conference of the Parties, known as COP24, is taking place near a Katowice coal mine used for 176 years and closed in 1999.
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The comments were made in Katowice, Poland, the city hosting the UN's COP24 climate talks - a multilateral meeting drawing together about 200 countries to set the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate accords.
The Paris deal saw nations agree to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and under 1.5C if possible.
COP24, billed as the most important United Nations climate conference since the Paris Agreement of 2015, is taking place in one of the most polluted coal-mining regions in Europe.
Nations most threatened by rising sea levels and devastating droughts will use a UN summit in Poland on Monday to urge richer countries to pay their fair share in the climate change fight.
Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate scientist, said 90 authors spent more than 1 ½ years assessing about 6,000 peer-reviewed publications for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent special report on the 1.5 C-target.
Guterres said climate change was already taking its toll. President Donald Trump has announced Washington's withdrawal from the Paris accord, saying it's a bad deal for Americans, and repeatedly questioned the science behind climate change.
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"I think that in the future we will look back and we will either laugh at them or we will hate them", she told The Associated Press.
Without naming specific countries, Guterres chided the nations most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions for failing to do enough to meet the goals set in Paris.
The UN chief thanked Modi for his commitment to increase India's nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement.
"This is the challenge on which this generation's leaders will be judged", Mr Guterres said.
The new plan will help boost funding for "adaptation and resilience", as the organization aims to further recognize the impacts of climate change on peoples lives, particularly in countries with high poverty, the organization said.
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