Four senior figures behind efforts to limit climate change have warned that the planet “is at a crossroads” as key talks opened a day early in Poland.
In a rare move, four former presidents of the United Nations-sponsored talks called for decisive action.
The meeting in Katowice is the most critical on climate change since the 2015 Paris agreement.
Experts say that drastic cuts in emissions will be needed if the world is to reach targets agreed in Paris.
Negotiators at the COP24 conference convened a day early because they are under pressure to make progress.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has announced $200bn in funding over five years to support countries taking action against climate change.
What’s so different about this meeting?
This Conference of the Parties (COP) is the first to be held since the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C came out in October.
The IPCC stated that to keep to the 1.5C goal, governments would have to slash emissions of greenhouse gases by 45% by 2030.
But a recent study showed that CO2 emissions are on the rise again after stalling for four years.
In an unprecedented move, four former UN climate talks presidents issued a statement on Sunday, calling for urgent action.
“Any delay will only make it harder and more expensive to respond to climate change.”
The statement was issued by Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, Salaheddine Mezouar of Morocco, Laurent Fabius of France and Manuel Pulgar Vidal of Peru.
ween what countries say they are doing and what needs to be done has never been wider.
“The IPCC report made crystal clear that every bit of warming matters, especially for the least developed countries,” said Gebru Jember Endalew, who chairs the group of poorest nations in the negotiations.
Why is Sir David Attenborough attending?
The celebrated broadcaster and naturalist will be sitting in what’s termed the “people’s seat” at these talks.
The idea is for the occupant to represent the millions of people around the world who are being affected by climate change.
At the opening ceremony, politicians will hear Sir David give a speech made up of climate change comments submitted by the public.
Will global leaders be attending?
Yes, some 29 heads of state and government are due to give statements at the opening of the meeting.
The number is way down on the stellar cast that turned up in Paris in 2015, which perhaps indicates that many are seeing this as more a technical stage on the road to tackling climate change than a big bang moment.
But for the likes of China and the EU, the meeting is critical. They will want to show that international co-operation can still work even in the age of President Trump.
Will President Trump and the US feature at all?
Although the US has withdrawn from the Paris agreement, it cannot leave until 2020, so its negotiators have been taking part in meetings and have not obstructed the process. America is expected to participate in COP24.
However, given the President’s well known love of coal, it has been reported that the White House will once again organise a side event promoting fossil fuels. A similar event at the last COP provoked outrage from many delegates.