Thousands march in Brussels climate change demonstration

Famed British naturalist Sir David Attenborough echoed his 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.

- Representatives from almost 200 countries began crunch United Nations climate talks in Poland against a backdrop of dire environmental warnings and a call for action against the "urgent" threats posed by climate change.

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". "Time is running out", he said. "They are behind you, along with civil society [who are] represented here today, supporting you in making tough decisions, but also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives", he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres the motivation for his "strong commitment" to climate action is rooted in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas.

And Gebru Jember Endalew, chair of the Least Developed Nations group of negotiators at the COP24, said "international cooperation is the only way to address the global threat of climate change".

AFP also reported "smaller, poorer" countries will suffer the most from climate change and wealthier nations should "make good on their promises" made three years ago when they signed onto the Paris climate change agreement.

Citing a recent scientific report on the dire consequences of letting average global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees, Mr Guterres urged countries to cut their emissions 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and aim for net zero emissions by 2050.

Poland's deputy environment minister, Michal Kurtyka, who is chairing the conference, urged envoys from nearly 200 nations to use the time between Sunday and December 14 to make progress on fleshing out the 2015 Paris agreement.

Arriving for two weeks of talks on tackling climate change, conference participants cast off hats, scarves and heavy coats as they entered cavernous halls in Katowice heated by coal-fired power plants nearby. Our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. "We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos", he said.

"We are in trouble, we are in deep trouble with climate change.

We need more action and more ambition", Guterres said.

"So, Paris commitments are not enough to reach the Paris goal".

"Trudging along the dirty development path trod by richer countries will see developing nations stuck in the past and pollute their environments while ruining efforts to limit global warming", he said.

The World Bank has announced it is doubling investments in climate action with $200bn (€176bn) for 2021-2025, including $50bn (€44bn) towards helping countries adapt to the impacts of global warming.

Pope Francis has in the past called for a "revolution" to combat climate change, saying the consensus was clear and "doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain".

Many countries are already dealing with the droughts, higher seas and catastrophic storms climate change is exacerbating. "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.

Vanessa Coleman

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