U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who issued a dramatic appeal to governments Monday to confront the threat of unchecked climate change, said he hopes the event in Poland will serve as a stepping stone for a meeting of leaders he is convening on the sidelines of next year's General Assembly.
"Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years, climate change", he told attendees at the 24th Conference of the Parties.
Attenborough, known for hosting nature broadcasts including the popular BBC series "Planet Earth", was chosen for the UN's "people's seat", representing those populations most affected by climate change. "Time is running out", he said.
Decisions on crunch issues, which may include financial aid for poor countries, are expected to be left to ministers when they gather at the domed conference venue in the southern Polish city of Katowice next week.
"Developed nations led by the United States will want to ignore their historic responsibilities and will say the world has changed", said Meena Ramam, from the Third World Network advocacy group.
In 2015, the Paris agreement deal saw nations agree to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and under 1.5C if possible.
"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 on the second day of talks.
Attenborough also promoted the "ActNow.bot", a Facebook campaign the U.N.is launching that will recommend actions people can take to protect the planet. The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world, upon which we depend, is in your hands.
"The impacts of climate change are increasingly hard to ignore".
"The wave of optimism and global cooperation that carried us to and through Paris has now crested, broken and is now tumbling", he told delegates.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the 20 warmest years ever recorded were in the past 22 years.
They called for ambitious decisions which are sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to enable the effective operation of the Paris Agreement, secured three years ago in the French capital to curb global warming. California experienced its deadliest fire in history this month.
If you're shaking your head that President Trump still isn't on board with the accord, know that the U.S.at least agreed to sign on to a measure to support clean energy initiatives that reads, "We recognize the crucial role of energy in helping shape our shared future, and we encourage energy transitions that combine growth with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions toward cleaner, more flexible and transparent systems, and cooperation in energy efficiency".