Climate change is 'most important issue we face — United Nations chief

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Natural historian David Attenborough listens to speeches during the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland, on Monday.

Envoys from nearly 200 nations gathered in Poland's southern city of Katowice, a day earlier than originally planned because of the large number of issues that need to be resolved by December 14.

The Arc de Triomphe is illuminated in green with the words "Paris Agreement is Done", to celebrate the Paris U.N. COP21 Climate Change agreement in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2016.

Guterres called for a "huge increase in ambitions" during the negotiations in Poland, adding "we can not afford to fail in Katowice".

He added the Paris agreement was not enough and that more must be done.

Delegates from almost 200 countries now have two weeks of negotiations to finalise how those goals work in practice, even as science suggests the pace of climate change is rapidly outstripping mankind's response.

The meeting received a boost over the weekend when 19 major economies at the G20 summit affirmed their commitment to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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A goal of the two-week conference in Poland's southern coal mining region of Silesia is finalizing how governments report on their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming within the limits of the Paris climate deal.

The US has previously pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and to provide billions in aid for poorer countries by 2020.

Attenborough, who has produced and narrated numerous nature documentaries, is a strong advocate for fighting climate change - but that wasn't always the case.

A demonstrator holds a placard which reads "climate first, politics second" during a "Claim the Climate" march in Brussels, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018.

We've got thousands of Australian schoolkids taking to the streets to protest climate inaction, and we've got everyone's surrogate grandpa making his disappointment very clear on a global stage.

Elsewhere in Katowice, a US campaign group called the Heartland Institute held a meeting criticizing the widespread consensus among scientists that global warming is a man-made phenomenon.

For 1.5C, they must increase fivefold. Fiji's president, along with the three preceding COP presidents, all published a letter saying they "are extremely concerned about the climate crisis and join our voices to the chorus of those seeking enhanced action".

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US officials have kept a low profile at the talks so far.

For his part, Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro vowed to follow Washington's lead during his campaign.

A young woman in China said she was already living with the impacts of climate change, while another woman standing in front of a building destroyed by a wildfire said, "This used to be my home".

"We have no time for limitless negotiations..."

"The impacts of climate change are increasingly hard to ignore".

"We are trying to save the world from annihilation, but we must do this in a way that those who live with us today in the world have the best possible living conditions", Polish President Andrzej Duda said.

"The question really is: how do you ensure that ambitious actions are done in an equitable way?"

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