Sir David Attenborough warns climate change will cause collapse of civilisation

Sir David Attenborough has warned climate change will cause the collapse of civilisation – and time is "running out".

Speaking at a UN climate change summit, Sir David said collapse of the natural world is “on the horizon”.

The naturalist and TV presenter delivered a message from people around the world at the talks in Katowice, Poland, calling for leaders and decision-makers to take charge on driving down greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking on behalf of the UN’s “People’s Seat” initiative, set up to give ordinary people a voice at the international talks, he said the world is facing its “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.

“The world’s people have spoken, their message is clear, time is running out, they want you, the decision-makers, to act now.

“They’re supporting you in making tough decisions but they’re also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives.”

Attenborough also urged everyone to use the UN’s new ActNow chatbot, designed to give people the power and knowledge to take personal action against climate change.

Sir David said: “The people have spoken: leaders of the world, you must lead, the continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend are in your hands.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned negotiators at the meeting that the world was “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’s too late.

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

He also said that “climate action is not just the right thing to do, it makes social and economic sense”, pointing to how action to cut emissions will curb air pollution deaths and generate millions of jobs and trillions of dollars.

Former actor and Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has long campaigned against climate change, also took to the podium.

He said: “Everytime you talk about America, you’re right when you say that our leadership in Washington is a little bit backwards.

“But you’re wrong when you say that America dropped out of the Paris agreement.

“Because if you look a little bit beyond Washington you will see that it is the states and the cities, it’s local governments, that can draw 70% of our emissions. And you will see all the extraordinary work that is going on a state and city level in America.”

The speeches come after four former presidents of the annual UN climate talks warned the “world is at a crossroads” and decisive action in the next two years would be crucial to tackle the threat of climate change.

In a joint statement, France’s Laurent Fabius, Frank Bainimarama, from Fiji, Salaheddine Mezouar, from Morocco, and Peru’s Manuel Pulgar Vidal said: “The challenges are there, as are the solutions.

“We require deep transformations of our economies and societies to build a better world for all. This must be powered by multilateral co-operation.”

They called for ambitious decisions which are sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to enable the effective operation of the Paris Agreement, secured three years ago in the French capital to curb global warming.

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 dangerous temperature rises.

And there needs to be progress on the goal of mobilising 100 billion US dollars (£78 billion) a year for poorer countries to drive clean growth, they urged.

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