NATURALIST Sir David Attenborough has warned world leaders climate change is man’s biggest threat for thousands of years and the collapse of civilisations is ‘on the horizon’ unless it is tackled.
The 92-year-old TV presenter was chosen to represent the views of people from across the globe in a speech to delegates and decision-makers from 200 countries at the opening of United Nations climate talks in Katowice, Poland.
They are meeting to agree how to turn pledges made in the 2015 Paris climate deal into reality.
Sir David said: ‘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.
‘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.’
As part of the UN People’s Seat initiative he introduced a film featuring victims of environmental disasters triggered by climate change calling for urgent action. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned delegates 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,’ he said. ‘For many people, regions and even countries, this is already a matter of life and death.’
He said the two-week summit was the most important since Paris and that it must deliver firm commitments to fund changes.
‘We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos,’ he said. ‘It is not just the right thing to do, it makes social and economic sense.’