Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, spoke at the opening ceremony, saying the use of "efficient" coal technology can be employed to take action on climate change, something which has been described as raising the "middle finger to the climate".
Famed British naturalist Sir David Attenborough echoed his warnings, telling the gathering that the "collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizons" if no urgent action is taking against global warming.
Attenborough, who has produced and narrated numerous nature documentaries, is a strong advocate for fighting climate change - but that wasn't always the case.
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.
"Climate change impacts have never been worse", Patricia Espinosa told journalists after Sunday's first negotiating session.
Guterres also called on negotiators not to lose sight of the fact that the challenges they face pale in comparison to the difficulties already caused by climate change to millions of people around the world seeing their livelihoods at risk from rising sea levels, drought and more powerful storms. The summit hoped to spur global action after the 2015 Paris climate accord. "The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands".
The world is "way off course" in its plan to prevent catastrophic climate change, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday as the Cop24 summit officially opened in Poland.
Guterres called on representatives to cement funding agreements, allowing the global community to take firm steps towards green solutions, suggesting the world was "nowhere near where it needs to be" on moving to a low-carbon economy.
"Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption", Guterres told delegates from nearly 200 countries who gathered in Katowice, Poland. "Time is running out", he said. "They want you, the decision-makers, to act now".
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Mohamed Adow, climate lead for the Christian Aid charity, said richer nations needed to donate funds to allow developing countries to make the leap to renewables. But now, the world is less than united in the battle against climate change.
The Paris agreement vowed to limit global temperature rises to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and to the safer cap of 1.5C if at all possible.
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.
President Donald Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the Paris agreement because of what he says is the economic damage the treaty's provisions would cause.
But scientists have observed that the human-led impact of climate change is already pretty identifiable around the world. The 20 warmest years on record have all occurred within the last 22 years, and the top four in the past four years, The Guardian noted.
A string of United Nations reports have sounded the alarm: levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are the highest in 3 million years and the last four years were the four hottest in history.
"Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale". In July, Greece declared a state of emergency as massive fires wiped out entire towns.
Nations more immediately threatened by climate change, including Fiji, are urging for nations to act now.