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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Public to be given a digital seat at international climate summit

Veteran broadcaster David Attenborough is leading the campaign to get normal people to take part in the talks.

David Attenborough will give a speech on behalf of the people at December's climate conference in Poland. Getty
David Attenborough will give a speech on behalf of the people at December's climate conference in Poland. Getty

Citizens of the world are being given the chance to have their voices heard at the world’s largest climate conference, thanks to British presenter David Attenborough.

The COP24 conference will take place in Poland from 2 – 14 December, checking in on progress from the 2016 Paris climate accords and making new commitments to stall rising global temperatures.

Members of the public who want to be involved in the conference are being invited to tweet their comments and questions using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat.These, as well as the results of a series of international opinion polls, will then be curated into ‘the people’s address’ which Mr Attenborough will deliver to the world’s politicians at the summit.

"This is an opportunity for people from across the globe, regardless of their nationality or circumstances, to be part of the most important discussion of this century; the unprecedented action needed to reach the Paris Agreement targets," Mr Attenborough said on Thursday.

The 2016 Paris climate talks (COP21) saw almost 200 countries commit to a variety of national goals designed to keep global temperatures "well below" 2.0c above pre-industrial times, and try to limit to them to 1.5c.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in 2017, stating his opinion that it was “an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.”

After Mr Attenborough’s December speech, a new tool encouraging people to take personal action to slow climate change will be launched. The Facebook Messenger ‘ActNow’ bot, located on the United Nation’s central Facebook account will offer ideas for small acts people can do to reduce their personal impact on the climate.

In the hours following the announcement, Twitter users took to the platform to share their ideas and demands.

Using digital tools to bring people together is increasingly popular within the climate change community. Thursday saw the first digital-only inter-governmental summit involving over 50 countries most at risk from climate change. Rather than create a large carbon footprint and exclude poorer nations and advocates by flying delegates to the chosen host nation, they all attended online.

"We are showing that more can be done with tools and means on hand than we might think," Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands and host of the summit, said in a statement.

The leaders of the Climate Vulnerable Forum states pledged on Thursday to raise the level of ambition of their national climate action plans by 2020 and urged other governments to do the same to keep the 1.5C warming limit within reach.