In Brief

David Attenborough warns civilisation is near collapse

Famed naturalist addresses COP24 UN climate change summit in Poland

Sir David Attenborough has warned world leaders that the collapse of civilisation and the natural world is “on the horizon”.

Attenborough, famous for his decades of documenting the world and its wildlife, was addressing delegates of almost 200 countries attending the COP24 UN climate change summit in Poland, designed to negotiate how to turn the 2015 Paris climate deal into reality.

“Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change,” Attenborough said. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Attenborough had been chosen to “represent the public, by taking the ‘People’s Seat’ at the conference”, CNN reports, after the UN had asked people around the globe to send in their thoughts about climate change.

“Leaders of the world you must lead,” he continued. “The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world on which we depend is in your hands.”

Attenborough also used the opportunity to plead with the United States to remain committed to fighting climate change, despite Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate deal.

“Please join the rest of the world,” he said. “The entire rest of the world is united in trying to take action on this. The United States is a very, very powerful voice. Please, please, join us.”

The Guardian says that the two-week COP24 summit is the “most important since Paris”, and that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for the summit to deliver “firm funding agreements” to combat climate change.

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