Days of tense negotiations have led to heated arguments between countries at a vital global climate summit in Poland, with science showing that the last four years have been the hottest on record.
The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hosted in Katowice between 2-14 December, was billed as the most important global climate conference since 2015 - when nearly 200 countries reached a historic agreement in Paris.
In Paris the world agreed the framework of a new global plan to tackle climate change. The negotiations in Katowice are expected to finalise the technical rulebook.
World off track
The opening ceremony on 2 December featured a speech by Sir David Attenborough, who was summoned to represent the ‘voice of the people’ at the negotiations.
“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon”, he said.
A few days before, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) revealed that 2018 was on course to be the fourth warmest year measured to date, making 2015 to 2018 the four hottest years on record.
The WMO stated that if the trend continues, average temperatures could rise by 3-5°C above pre-industrial levels this century - far surpassing the 1.5-2°C target agreed in Paris in 2015.
In October, the latest assessment of climate change from the world’s leading scientists made headlines around the world after it estimated that the world was completely off track and had only 12 years left to limit warming to 1.5°C.
Business leads the way
The negotiations in Katowice have already hit a snag after the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked the conference from officially “welcoming” the assessment. However, climate action by business continues unabated.
With the conference still ongoing, a group of more than 400 global investors worth £25 trillion have issued a joint call for urgent cuts in carbon emissions, many leading fashion brands and manufacturers have joined a new UN Sustainable Fashion Charter, a group of over 200 leading CEOs have launched a new initiative to promote the business case for ‘New Energy Solutions’, and many others have reaffirmed their commitment to doing their part to tackle climate change.